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How Does Mindful Eating Help?

By Michelle May, M.D.
By Michelle May, MD and Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE, authors of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes

There is no simple formula for managing diabetes, but mindfulness can help you stop the downward spiral of overeating, inactivity, elevated blood sugars, fatigue, and worsening insulin resistance.

How? You can start by becoming more mindful. This is done by shifting your focus from “What do I do?” to “How do I feel?” For example, instead of focusing on calories, carbohydrates, and fat, become aware of why, when, what, how, and how much you eat. Let yourself see eating patterns, recognize triggers, and discover foods that are most satisfying to you.

Here’s how Lisa described it:

“When I was counting and measuring my food, I made sure to eat every last bite. I thought about diabetes and food all the time. This preoccupation only made things harder.”  Sound familiar?

When Lisa finally had enough of dieting this is what happened:

“When I decided to shift my focus and really notice how I felt, things changed. The funny thing was, by doing this, I started to enjoy eating again and I stopped worrying. I wasn’t so determined to eat everything I was ‘allowed’ and I could focus on eating what I needed.”

Care-awareness-3

Mindful eating can help you see food in a new way. When food is no longer the enemy, you can observe your thoughts, feelings, actions and results without judgment, guilt, or shame. That alone can help you feel lighter and more comfortable in your own body.

Now, shift your attention to your direct experience of eating. Notice as much as you can about each bite: taste, texture, aftertaste, thoughts, memories or other food associations. Allow your experience to guide your choices, replacing fear, anxiety, and doubt with curiosity, trust, and pleasure in each bite. By listening to what your body is saying, you have begun to create a different relationship with food and eating, opening the door to true understanding, wisdom, and health.

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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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