Mindful Eating


Mindfulness is the practice of using one-pointed attention to observe the thoughts and feelings, non-judgmentally, that come up in our minds. In mindfulness, we don't ignore or suppress these thoughts or feelings, nor do we analyze or judge their content. Rather, we simply note them as they occur. This noticing of thoughts and feelings allows us to feel less caught up in them, and can give us a deeper perspective on our reactions to everyday stress and pressure. Ultimately, with mindfulness, we are able to gain insight into what drives us, how we see the world, how we see ourselves and into our fears and desires.

The goal of mindfulness is to be more aware, more in touch with whatever is happening in the body and mind at the time it is happening—that is, the present moment. If one is experiencing a distressing thought or feeling, the natural inclination is to try to escape the unpleasantness. With mindfulness, one resists this inclination and instead, attempts to see the thought or feeling clearly and to accept it as it is. By accepting what each moment offers, we open ourselves to experiencing life completely, increasing the likelihood of being able to respond effectively to any situation that presents itself.

Mindfulness includes:
• Deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally, to the body and surroundings..
• Being flexible enough to see things from multiple perspectives.
• Being aware of what is present, mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.
• Cultivating the possibility of freeing oneself from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.
• Promoting balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

In my work over the past 25 years with clients who struggle with various types of food and weight issues, I have come to recognize one's relationship with food as the vehicle for entering the realm of the Self. Using the principles of Mindfulness, I believe that one can use this relationship to explore this Self, becoming more aware and in touch with the present moment, increasing the likelihood of experiencing life more completely, without fear or misunderstanding.

Most people who have dieted at any time during their lives have learned to think of food as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong” and “all” or “nothing”. It becomes easy to think, then, of oneself as “good” or “bad”, depending on one's food choices for the day. This leads to the first type of compulsive overeating, “Deprivation Sensitive Eating”. This type of overeating results from attempting to follow overly rigid food regimens or restrictive standards for eating. When one “forbids” oneself to eat a food or food group, that forbidden food may gain value in a manner that leads to obsession on that food or food group. If willpower is being used to refrain from that food, there will eventually be a breakdown in willpower and a return to eating the forbidden, many times in large quantities, creating a pattern of binge eating, usually with much guilt, disgust, and a sense of failure.

The second type of compulsive overeating is “non-hunger” or “emotional” eating. This form of overeating is a result of an individual eating to calm anxiety or other unwanted feeling states. Food is used as a method of dissociating from one's immediate experience. This pattern of reaching for food outside of physiological hunger and satiety becomes habitual over time. Weight gained from this type of overeating can become part of a defense system, whereby one creates a boundary between oneself and others.

Mindful Eating includes:
• Allowing oneself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting one's own inner wisdom.
• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing and nourishing to one's body by using all the senses to explore, savor and taste.
• Acknowledging one's responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide in one's decision to begin and to stop eating.
• Recognizing how one can achieve specific health goals as he/she becomes more attuned to the connection between eating and health.
• Understanding that health and self-worth are not defined by a particular body weight, size or shape.


I work with individuals struggling with Binge Eating Disorder or Compulsive Overeating helping them learn to live mindfully, and to develop a new, more collaborative relationship with food.

GROUPS

Beginning several times during each year, I offer a 14 week Mindful Eating Group. Based on the Practices of Mindfulness, and of Mindful Eating, this group combines psychoeducation with support in helping individuals become more conscious in their choice-making, not only with food, but with all areas of their lives. This group meets once per week for an hour and a half. Please call me at 336-724-1400 to discuss fees for this Group, and to schedule a screening session prior to the start of the Group.

Please check
here for the next Group's start date.
Licensed Professional Counselor