Is Mindful Eating as Boring as it Sounds?

That’s a fair question.

In our Western culture words like mindfulness and awareness can feel unfamiliar, even weird. Thankfully that’s changing. Still a lot of people tell me that they’re afraid that mindful eating will be boring – they think they’ll be giving something up if they eat this way.

So let’s start by taking a look at what mindful eating is NOT:

  • It’s not eating in slow motion like a sloth
  • It doesn’t mean you can never ever do anything but eat when you eat
  • It’s not about counting 30 chews per bite (barf!)
  • It’s not about eating only whole foods
  • It doesn’t mean you have to become a Zen master, which I understand takes a very long time

Mindful eating IS about having:

  • A full-on, deep down, satisfying pleasure experience
  • A rejuvenating mini-vacation for your body and brain, several times a day
  • The freedom to choose food you truly enjoy – and the peace and confidence to enjoy a sane amount
  • A practice that leads you to a comfortable weight and keeps you there (rather than losing and regaining the same old weight)
  • Confidence. Its effectiveness is proven again and again by researchers and, more importantly, by real people with real lives

Does this sound boring to you!?! This is eating at its very best – it’s exciting and peaceful at the same time. Hmmm, that just might be the confusion…

Peaceful is not the same thing as boring.

I could go on and on enthusiastically because this way of living with food literally freed me from a thirty year imprisonment. That’s why I call it liberated eating. I was enslaved by two masters: restriction (too little) and compulsion (too much) – with a whole lot of angst banging around between the two. The relief and joy of my liberation never leaves; it fuels my passion for coaching others to their own health and freedom.

Anyone can step away from relentless dieting and learn how to trust themselves and honor their own body’s innate wisdom again.

I know, I know – that sounds scary, but don’t worry about the lack of food-rules. Our freedom is not an excuse for indulgence, which always takes more than it gives. Liberated eating is rooted in wisdom and respect, which always give back more than they require.

WOW! There’s certainly nothing boring about that!


*Thank you, National Geographic, for this photo and so much more.

How To Approach 2018 Goals So They Actually Work

We all know the disheartening stats on how many of us ever reach, much less maintain, our New Year’s resolutions.

But here’s the thing… it’s not that we can’t do it. 

In fact…

You certainly can accomplish what you want to accomplish, in spite of obstacles.

You are completely capable of reaching and maintaining any reasonable goal – and even your big bodacious ones.

But how?

First let’s look at some common mistakes we make when goal setting:

1. They’re too vague. “I’m gonna eat healthy this year” or “I’m gonna drink more water”
2. They’re too drastic. “I’m never gonna eat any sugar* again”
3. There’s no end. “I’m gonna workout every weekday (…for the rest of my life)”

It’s easy to see how invigorating these bold proclamations might be at first, but we all know how difficult it is to follow through.

There is a different and powerful approach that can work for us rather than against us:

Set Goals with Built-in Exploration & Evaluation

For example:

  • TEST DRIVE: Instead of “I’m gonna eat healthy this year,” I can decide to actively explore different ways to eat nutritiously. I pick one that jazzes me (let’s say Mediterranean) and then test-drive it for one month. I do a bit of research, prepare 1 to 3 new dishes each week through January, depending on my schedule. I check out a Mediterranean restaurant. At the end of the month I take stock. Have I enjoyed this experiment? Do I want to continue, keep part of it, or scrap the whole thing? Do I want to move on to explore other things like Forks Over Knives recipes, Daniel Plan recipes or Dr. Lugwig’s recipes. There are so many great categories and resources to choose from and any of them that bring vibrant health will fit beautifully within our Liberated Eating lifestyle.
  • BE SPECIFIC: Instead of a big vague goal like “I’m gonna drink more water,” I could decide that this week I’m gonna fill my favorite purple water bottle each morning, put it on my desk in plain sight and drink it by lunch, then repeat for the afternoon. I might also put an hourly drink reminder on my phone. After one week I evaluate. What part of this worked for me? What specifically didn’t work? What supports can I put in place this next week in order to get a better outcome?
  • TIMED TRIAL: “I’m gonna workout every weekday.” What if I build in some wiggle room here and decide to give this lofty goal a whirl for two weeks and then evaluate? This way I don’t set myself up for feeling guilty when it becomes clear that 5 days a week is unreasonable for real life. No wiggle room adds unnecessary stress to our lives – so allow for wise adjustments.

Here’s what we know:

No one’s gonna stick with anything that isn’t manageable and enjoyable on some level –

no matter how good it might be for them, 

so discovering what fits YOU is vital work.

Choosing specific behaviors for a limited amount of time means you’re never stuck. Building in evaluation and re-calibration means you’re spending 2018 moving ahead at a speed and trajectory you will enjoy!


*In my coaching practice I work with a few liberated eaters who have found, through exploration and coaching over time, that eating a sugar-free menu is best for them. This decision may come because of medical reasons or because they discover that living moderately with sugar is a battle they would rather not fight. For these people, eating sugar-free is not a diet. It is not forced deprivation or restriction. It is a very personal, thoughtfully chosen path that brings them the peace and health they desire.

The Mindset That Conquers Trigger Foods

Holidays can be intense! Especially in the food category. Even seasoned intuitive eaters can be surprised by some almost-forgotten compulsive food-feelings this time of year. Certain goodies, situations, people and places trigger old patterns of overeating.

One way to strengthen ourselves as liberated eaters this time of year is to    intentionally revisit how we think now, compared to how we used to think.

Let’s compare these two very different mindsets: the old restrictive diet-mentality that trapped us on the diet/binge roller coaster – and – the liberating mindful mindset that connects us to our bodies and ourselves again…

Old mindset: {anxious and intense}

“This is special food!!! It looks sooo good – and it’s sooo bad!!! But… I don’t get this very often so I better eat a LOT of it now!!!”

New mindset: {peaceful and grateful}

“Holiday fare is a gift. I’m going to enjoy it and honor this time of year (and my health) by savoring it…

There’s nothing I have to overeat in order to enjoy it fully.”

Old mindset: {false hope of a future quick fix}

“In January I’m gonna go on the best diet ever and this time I’m gonna lose all this weight once and for all. I’m gonna detox and exercise and eat clean for the rest of my life!  So… I better eat all the bad stuff I can now.”

New mindset: {permanent livable solution}

“Every day I can have a delicious, calm, balanced relationship with food and my body. I don’t have to live with the extremes of too-much or too-little anymore. I can enjoy satisfying portions of the food I love every day.”

Old mindset: {shame and harsh judgement lead to repeated behaviors}

“OH NOOOO!!! I blew it AGAIN…how can I be so weak and incapable? …I’m hopeless … I might as well stuff myself.”

New mindset: {mercy leads to kindness and change}

“Hmmm, I just ate past satisfied. Whew, I don’t like that old stuffed feeling. That’s ok! I don’t have to do this perfectly. I’ll take great care of myself by listening closely to my body. I’ll check in and wait for physical hunger before I eat again.”

As we step away from emotional knee-jerk reactions and into a real relationship with food, the old triggers and patterns begin to fade. A flexible, enjoyable food-life begins to grow – not just on normal days but during the messy, fun, hustle-bustle of the holidays too.


Yummy thanks for the Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

3 Powerful Mindsets That Bring Food-Sanity To Holidays

When it comes to food, what’s happening between our ears is much more important than what’s happening on our plates, because what we believe determines our behaviors.

This is never truer than around the holidays.

Let’s take a look at 3 powerful perspectives that’ll help us navigate this time of year well:

I. Choose a connoisseur mindset. It’s OK to be picky. Food is everywhere so it makes sense to be choosy. Thinking like a connoisseur helps you identify what will satisfy you most. Don’t love canned green beans? Don’t eat ‘em. Being intentionally discerning cuts down on eating a lot of food automatically and unnecessarily.

BIG PAY-OFF: As you choose the foods that really jazz you (rather than choosing what you should eat or just eating everything because it’s there) you will naturally enjoy it more and eat less.

And here’s something really cool: Liberated eaters say that as their mindfulness grows so does their  appreciation and awareness of all the other good stuff too – holiday feelings, sounds, smells, sights, and the people they’re with.

That’s a win-win!

II. Choose a journey mindset. Becoming a more mindful, intuitive person (which is what liberated eating is about) is not like flipping on and off a light switch or falling on and off a wagon. It’s a true pilgrimage – a life-changing journey of self-discovery.

BIG PAY-OFF: Having this mindset keeps us focused on our discoveries and progress rather than getting hung up on inevitable mistakes and then harshly condemning ourselves for them. This relieves us of the pressure to eat perfectly, which isn’t possible or even necessary.

It also keeps us from doing that crazy thing I used to do: Trying really hard to “be good.” Eventually “blowing it.” Starting to plan the next Big New Year’s Diet, which led to over-eating my way all the way through November and December.

Sound familiar?

III. Choose to be gracious with yourself. Overeating sweet potato casserole doesn’t make you a bad person; it just makes you feel bad. If it happens, let go of berating yourself.  It. Will. Not. Help.

If self-criticism worked, we would’ve all been thin a long time ago.

BIG PAY-OFF: People who step off the food-shame train and give themselves grace to be human open up fresh, new space to learn and change, permanently. They begin to see what’s happening with a clear head and can begin to build the lifestyle they really want.

Grace also allows us to have a sense of humor – and that makes everything better.

So there you have it.  Savor. Discover. Forgive.

Imagine what these holidays might be like if you decide to walk through them as a gracious connoisseur on a holiday journey…

Notice Anything Strange Lately – Part 2

6 Unexpected Outcomes From Our Phone-Free Experiment

In last week’s post we looked at how our phones and screens are proving to be addictive and what we might do about it. I proposed a one week experiment and many of you took the challenge!

Our experiment was to make one change for one week. There were 5 options to choose from. I chose the “fun one” because it was the easiest: Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity…Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

So I decided to swing.

Four times this week I walked out to the back yard and sat down in an old-fashioned wooden swing hanging from a real tree. I pushed off with my legs and pumped just like I used to at recess in 1964, ponytail flying. Once I got going I could lean back and marvel at the kaleidoscope of fall colors in the canopy overhead.

My only rule was to enjoy myself – no phone, no figuring, no fretting for ten whole minutes. Just be a kid again.
As the week unfolded there were some interesting outcomes I hadn’t anticipated.

Unexpected positive benefits:

  1. High ROI – The carefree goodness of ten minutes of swinging came back to mind at random times all week. When the thought returned it brought the vibrant joy of freedom all over again.
  2. Sleep – While trying to get to sleep (which often takes longer than it should) the soothing sensation of swinging came back to me. It was like meditation without an app! I felt the slow easy arc of motion up to the sky and back again. It was remarkably relaxing and I fell asleep more easily than usual.
  3. Relief & Playfulness – When I waffled about taking time to swing I would re-commit myself to the experiment: The next 10 minutes are set aside to play. Period. Once I got firm on that, I felt a surprising sense of relief and playfulness.
  4. Rekindled Memories – As I made a little space to swing this week other similar memories have surfaced. I remembered how my beagle, Stranger, and I used to dig for field mice in the sagebrush fields around our house and then nap in the warm sun, hidden by the tall sweet-smelling grass.

Revealing observations:

  1. Resistance – Sometimes while swinging I felt the pull to go get my phone to make a video and send it to my granddaughter…to turn this experience into a production of sorts. At times it was difficult to stay present – to just enjoy myself and not document it. 
  2. Need for Validation – It isn’t easy to admit this but my mind grappled with crazy questions like: If I don’t share this with anyone, is it still valuable? If no one knows about this moment, is it still significant? Yes and yes and more yes.

This experiment has seriously troubled some waters for me. It’s awakened a deep longing to protect unstructured, unhurried chunks of time, and an urgency to understand how deeply our phones are changing how we operate in our world and with each other. I believe there are workable solutions – and together we can find them.

I hope you’ll share what you’re learning with us in the comments below. Our on-going shared conversation is certainly part of our awareness and solution.


Note: If you haven’t seen Adam Alter’s TED Talk yet, take 9 minutes to listen.