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My Emotional Eating Experience

By Charlene Rayburn

As I started to fill my plate, there were clues. Lots of clues that I was vulnerable to emotional, mindless eating:

Clue #1: My urge to eat was intense.

Clue #2: I felt anxious, tense and hurried.

Clue #3: I didn’t want to even ask myself, “Am I Hungry?®” because I might not be, and then I might feel like I shouldn’t eat…and I was definitely going to eat!

Clue #4: The baked “fried-style” chicken and mashed potatoes were absolutely irresistible–hot, chewy, comfort food from my childhood. The fresh green beans and biscuit and honey were bonus.

Clue #5: I could hardly wait to put food in my mouth and CHOMP!

Clue #6: I was ready to pile huge portions on my plate.

I took a breath. I slowed my pace. I stood in the pause. I reminded myself that asking, “Am I hungry?” doesn’t mean I can’t eat if the answer is no. There is only one rule and that is to ask. I also reminded myself that the Am I Hungry Mindful Eating Program is about awareness and choices, not rules. As well, I reminded myself how much more I enjoy my meals when I eat mindfully.

Body-Mind-Heart Scan

heart with leverI quickly performed a Body-Mind-Heart Scan, and as a result was more aware of both my hunger level and the intensity of my emotions. Indeed, I was hungry and my emotions were strong. As I started to place the food on my plate, I consciously chose the amount that I thought best matched my hunger level. Then, off to one side of my plate, I placed a little more to placate my emotions. It calmed them a bit to reassure myself that I could choose how much to eat, even if it meant being very full when I finished.

I did not need to follow someone else’s rules. I ate mindfully and after I had finished the hunger-level portion, I checked back in and discovered that the guessed portion was a good match and that I was no longer hungry. I also checked in with my emotions. During the time that I had been eating mindfully, my emotions had calmed significantly. I did not feel as compelled to overeat. I ate 2 more bites of mashed potatoes, and cut up the remaining chicken to put in a salad for lunch the next day. At the end of the meal, I was physically satisfied, more emotionally balanced, and again grateful for the program and the tools it provides that prepare me for eating urges such as this one.

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About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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