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FreeTreat Activity 4: Eat What You Love

By Michelle May, M.D.

(This post is the fourth FreeTreat activity in our stay-at-home-retreat e-book – download it free here. Based on Chapter 5 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.)

Guilt, shame, and judgment are powerful fuel for the overeating cycle. Mindfulness is about observing the present moment without judgment.

The goal of this activity is to observe the sensations you experience while eating your favorite food without a critical mind.

  • Make a list of foods that you really love, including those you rarely allow yourself to eat without guilt.
  • Select one of the foods for thisactivity. While deciding, it’s important to understand what you really want. Are you craving something
    crunchy or smooth, cold or warm, sweet or salty, and/or heavy or light? Do you want something that brings you fond memories, or perhaps something you’ve told yourself many times that you can’t have?Eat Anything - Copy
  • Notice when thoughts like “bad food” or judgments arise about the calorie, fat, sugar, or carbohydrate content. Let the judgments go and allow yourself the freedom to select any type of food you really want.
  • Purchase one serving of the food from a store or restaurant. Notice when you really, really, really, really want the food you’ve purchased (The Four Really Test). Consciously choose to eat the food without any strings attached.
  • Eliminate distractions and sit down to eat.
  • Once have the food in front of you, admire its color, shape, and texture.
  • Close your eyes and think about why you chose this particular food. Can you recall a pleasant memory or experience you’ve had with this food? Try to recall who you were with and what was happening as you were eating. Again, if judgments or unpleasant memories arise, let them go. Bring your attention back to the present.
  • Smell the food as you breathe slowly in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Does it smell strong, sweet, bitter, or spicy?
  • Gently take your first bite. Close your eyes and chew slowly observing the flavor of the food as it dissolves in your mouth. Does the flavor taste stronger than the last time you remember eating it? What is the texture like? How does the taste change the longer it lasts in your mouth?
  • When you finish take a couple moments to observe how you feel. How do your feelings about this food change when you are taking time to appreciate each bite?
  • If you struggled with this activity, ask yourself, “What was I thinking when I was eating it?” Thoughts like, “I shouldn’t eat this,” or “I’m going to eat it all in case I don’t get another chance,” can continue to drive overeating.
  • Use this process with other foods on your list. Learning to eat the foods you love fearlessly will help you rebuild trust in your ability to listen to your body wisdom.

So what did you notice when you experienced a favorite food mindfully–without guilt?

For more daily mindful activities, download the FreeTreat e-book.

Next Post: FreeTreat Activity 5: Washing Away Stress

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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