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You are NOT powerless over food!

By Michelle May, M.D.

Your habits depend on your mindlessness.

habits depend on your mindlessnessThis simple but profound statement explains why mindful eating is such a powerful approach for addressing your triggers for overeating. (See my last post for a list of common triggers identified by my readers. Can you relate to these?) Chances are, if you have one trigger, you have dozens! So before we talk about specific strategies for dealing with specific triggers, we need to have an overarching strategy that will help you handle just about anything that comes up.

FEAST Instead of Eat!

Let’s use the strategy FEAST (Focus, Explore, Accept, Strategize, Take Action) from our Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops and Chapter 3 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat:

Focus: If your habits depend on your mindlessness, then the corollary is that your awareness is the first step to making a change. So pause, breathe, and notice what is happening in the present moment. This pause allows you to respond instead of reacting (re-acting out the past) mindlessly.

Explore: Get curious! What is the trigger? Why is this situation, person, place, or feeling a trigger for eating?

Accept: It is what it is, and what you resist persists! Denying your feelings, avoiding difficult situations, pushing things away, or stuffing them down with food works like a spring: it takes a lot of energy to hold it down and it will pop back up, often when you least expect it. Instead, accept things as they are without judgment. Admittedly, this is not always easy but it is very effective.

Strategize: Choose how you’ll respond, knowing that eating anyway is always an option. For now, consider what else could you do until you’re hungry. What could you do to meet this need more effectively than eating? What could you do to prevent this particular trigger in the future?

Take Action: Take a small step–even a micromovement–in the direction you want to go. You are only powerless over food if you choose to remain mindless. Every time you choose to become mindful, you weaken your habits. With practice, it will become more natural to choose your response instead of continuing to react mindlessly.

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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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