Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Mindful Eating Programs and Training

How Mindful Eating Helps End Yo-yo Dieting

Michelle May

IMG_0572During our anniversary trip to Italy, my husband and I sat down for a glass of wine after a long day of sightseeing. Suddenly, food appeared!

The waiter explained, “These are ‘appertivos’ to tide you over and help prevent intoxication when you have a drink in the afternoon.” Apparently, appertivos are the Italian equivalent of Happy Hour.

Once again, I was grateful for my ability to eat fearlessly and mindfully.

How Mindful Eating Helps

In my old yoyo diet days, having food like this show up unexpectedly would have derailed me. I could have easily gone from in control to out of control.

Instead, I was in charge.

Mindful eating is not just about the appearance, taste, and aromas of food. To me, it encompasses the entire Mindful Eating Cycle: Why? When? What? How? How Much? and Where?

With awareness of each of these decisions in my eating cycle, I can respond instead of react. I have response-ability, rather than re-acting and continually playing out old patterns. (Download chapter 1 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for more detail about the Mindful Eating Cycle.)

Six Steps in Mindful Eating

Let me use the appertivos above as an example of how I apply these six mindful eating decisions.

Why do I eat? Throughout this trip (and in my life), I am conscious about eating as an experience, while continuing to meet my nutritional and fuel needs. In other words, I eat with the intention of balancing eating for enjoyment with eating for nourishment.

When do I eat? A quick mind-body scan (see chapter 2 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat) revealed that I was not only tired, but I was somewhat hungry (a “3” for those of you who use our Hunger and Fullness Scale).

What do I eat? I noticed that I was definitely hungry for savory flavors and, as had been the case throughout the trip, I was also keenly interested in trying traditional favorites. Somehow potato chips and chips and salsa weren’t going to cut it. There was no angst, guilt, or even thinking, “Oh well, it is a special occasion!” It wasn’t about the calories, or good vs. bad. It was just food. The quality of the food could either enhance or detract from my experience, but otherwise had no power over me. It was simply about consciously choosing what I would find most satisfying.

How do I eat? We enjoyed relaxing at the outdoor cafe, sampling the appertivos and wine, and discussing our day. We agreed that we wanted more of these experiences in our busy lives!

ItalyBologna13.1-PiazzaMaggiore-RagingBullHow much do I eat? Of course, Europeans generally eat much later in the evening, so when in Rome … Well actually, we were in Bologna, but we had dinner reservations in a couple of hours so eating a little now was definitely a good idea. At the same time though, appetizers are actually de-appetizers, and I didn’t want to overdo it and “ruin my dinner” (as my mother used to say).

Where do I invest my energy? Refreshed after our wine and appertivos, we walked around again and discovered that they had a film festival going on in the middle of Piazza Maggiore. Later after dinner, we returned to watch “Raging Bull” in Italian with English subtitles under the stars.

Eat Mindfully, Live Vibrantly

Learning to eat mindfully has given me the flexibility to eat what I love in any situation without worrying about blowing it, or ruining the experience by overeating or feeling guilty. More importantly, by breaking free of yoyo dieting, I have more space in my life for living.


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