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Isn’t mindful eating just paying more attention to what you eat?

By Michelle May, M.D.

I recently had a brilliant conversation with Jennifer, a dietitian and relatively new Am I Hungry? licensee. Jennifer shared with me that she initially believed mindful eating was just paying more attention to what you eat and was even teaching that to her clients.

I want you to hear, in her words, about some of her misconceptions and how digging deeper led to profound shifts for her and her clients.

A Belief that Misguides So Many

One of the things I love most about what I do is having the opportunity to witness real change happen in the lives of people who previously felt that change just wasn’t possible.

It is remarkable to me because when I first meet them, they usually have some key misunderstandings about what mindful eating is, and how it can help them or their clients. One of the most common things I hear is:

“Isn’t mindful eating just paying more attention to what you eat?”

I understand why they might think that. Often, when you see mindful eating mentioned, the context is something like, “And be really mindful about where your calories are coming from.”

Ugh! That is the opposite of how we see mindful eating at Am I Hungry?!

And unfortunately, this misunderstanding leaves many stranded on the pier, waiting for a boat to come in with the next eating fad that will finally be the one that “works” (whatever that means). All the while, food usually isn’t the problem; their relationship with food is just out of whack! (And no wonder, when everyone around them keeps harping on all the “bad” foods they should avoid!)

My conversation with Jennifer reminds me that my mission is to change the way the world thinks about eating—not just by reshaping the definition of mindful eating, but by guiding curious people through the mindful eating self-discovery process.

Click here to see more of Jennifer’s insights in my next post. (Hint: Do you suffer from IAKT syndrome?)

In the meantime, please share some of the things you’ve heard about mindful eating that you are curious about in the comments section below.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. NATALIA says:

    Dr May. I thank you for what you are doing . I am a practicing Family Physician for 20 years . I never felt I was helping my patient in the system , not to mention helping myself . I enjoy health coaching so much for and the things I have learned mindful eating has helped me help people tremendously.
    I started my own small practice Direct Primary Care with a focus on lifestyle change to treat DM, heart disease basically all chronic conditions . I am a lifestyle coach at our diabetes prevention program at our local YMCA but want to add in more information.
    I plan to find a way to sign up for your training. /it amazing that leading a healthy life doesn’t involve. I really want to move away from the day to day treatment of chronic disease and continue to work on lifestyle , mindset change and prevention. Thank you for helping me learn.

    • I am SO excited to welcome you to our table! Mindful eating is a transformative process that can help our patients improve their overall well-being. It is so exciting to be part of the process of helping people relearn to be the expert in themselves. I’ll look forward to working with you Natalia!

  2. Thank you so much Michelle for your tireless pursuit of teaching mindful eating skills!!! I’m so very grateful to have connected with you and the AIH? program. I continue to learn more about mindful eating each and every day personal as well as with my clients during their journey to a more balanced approach to nourishing their body. This morning a regular client said that this wisdom should be taught to grade-school children to prevent body dysmorphia and a dysfunctional relationship with food from chronic dieting. Thank you for giving me to tools to guide others to a more mindful life with an “all foods fit” philosophy! I’m so grateful for you and the Am I Hungry? program!

    • Thank YOU Jennifer! Since we each have our own circle of influence, it has been my dream to teach these concepts and skills to other passionate health and wellness professionals who would create a ripple effect in the world. That is exactly what you are doing – and each of the people you touch help spread these ideas too. And that’s the way we can change the world thinks about eating!

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