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 Holiday Over-Eating Can Be a Gift

How’d the food-thing go this Christmas?

If you’re happy with how things went – fantastic! If you’re not so happy, that’s OK too because there’s valuable meaning in our messy eating experiences if we know how to mine it out.

Let’s talk it through and see what we can discover…

TAKE 5: First, take 5 quiet minutes to reflect. I know, I know, it’s not easy, but a little rumination changes everything. Just sit still. Quiet your mind and allow your body to relax. Think back on your eating experiences over the past few days.

FIND A POSITIVE: Try to identify one moment when your interaction with food was wonderfully satisfying. There was a lot of pleasure and peace in that moment.

What exactly was going on in your thoughts, your actions and/or your environment that made that such a good experience?

If you had one of those moments, acknowledge it. Examine it with curiosity. Share it with someone else on this food journey so they can bear witness with you. Mark it so you can remind yourself that you indeed can relate to food in this way.

Let each positive experience become a confidence-building guide for you.

REDEEM THE NEGATIVE: Now, without self-criticism, reflect on an eating moment you are not happy with? What was happening? Was there shame or anxiety around eating “fattening” or “illegal” food? Did you feel driven to over-eat by compulsion or distraction or secrecy or decades of old holiday habit? I encourage you to acknowledge and explore this too. Making space to understand what happened without judgment takes the power from it and gives it back to you, where it belongs.

RIGHT NOW: This is the time to do this good work, while it’s fresh. Next weekend we get a do-over! New Years is gonna give us another opportunity to step into a holiday feast scenario, this time with full awareness.

We can relax and eat food we love. 

We can slow down and enjoy it for all it’s worth.

We can enjoy an amount that feels great. 

The beautiful thing about approaching food in this way is that it spills over into how we approach Life. You’ll be more deeply connected to yourself, others, events, and moments.

Nurturing liberated eating cultivates The Art of Living Awake.

That’s a pretty amazing gift to give yourself in 2018!


Thank you for the chilly photo  Arnold Exconde on Unsplash

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

How to Stop Overeating in 5 Minutes or Less

Overeating is a changeable pattern. It’ll take about 5 minutes…5 minutes of kind, curious reflection each time you’re not happy with how you’ve eaten.

Hang with me here. This is big.

Change starts with realizing something new. Realizations often come after we’ve stopped to think a bit. The new insights we gain influence new behavior, which brings more insight, which leads to more new behavior and on and on it goes. It’s a beautiful upward spiral.

Over time you rewire the software in your brain and the old patterns are over-ridden by the new ones.

To rewire our compulsive or habitual overeating, one of the most powerful things we can do is take a short timeout right after things haven’t gone the way we wish they had…

EVERY TIME* you overeat stop for a few minutes and:

1. Forgive yourself. No self-condemnation. No harsh judgment or shame. No “What in the world is wrong with me??!!” None of that. That just gums up the works, creates a downward spiral, and keeps you stuck.

2. Turn this overeating experience into something of great value to you. Instruct your mind to be quiet. Sit still a moment and become completely aware of your body. Be curious. Notice how you feel, and where. Focus on the sensations that feel uncomfortable.

3. Ask kind and helpful questions. Does my stomach feel bloated and heavy? Do my clothes feel tight? Do I feel tired and lethargic? How is my energy level? Do I like the way this feels? How would I like to feel next time? What could have changed this outcome? At what point might I have stopped eating that would’ve made this a good experience for me?

4. Connect the bad feelings with the overeating. Connection is powerful; it keeps us from being short-sighted.

We’re smart. We don’t touch hot stoves anymore. But dieting has blinded us – it’s caused the normal act of eating to become emotionally charged. When it comes to food we aren’t operating out of our usual innate wisdom. But we can. And we can feel vibrant, energized, and nourished after we eat. That’s not too much to ask.

Research shows that in most cases it takes about a year to rewire our thinking; maybe longer if our food struggle has been in place for decades. That’s certainly true of my story. The good news is, with a little help, we can create the change we want to see – 5 quiet minutes at a time.

*Of course I don’t mean literally EVERY TIME. Perfection isn’t necessary or possible but lasting change will take true consistency.

Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash


Notice Anything Strange Lately?

Something strange is happening…

Last week I watched as a young woman stumbled up a flight of stairs because she couldn’t take her eyes off her phone. I sat next to a man in church whose pocket vibrated repeatedly the entire hour. And my wellness clients’ ability to get through an entire coaching session without looking at a screen of some kind is much more a struggle than it was ten years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting in judgement here. I understand the pull. I can scroll through FaceBook “for a few minutes” only to wake up thirty minutes later feeling weirdly anxious. My body and brain give me red flags but I don’t always listen.

Research is discovering more and more about why these tiny devices are so addictive. If we hope to live rich, full lives we’ve got to make some important choices.

I’m certainly not planning on ditching my phone, mind you. Just this week I FaceTimed with sweet MayMay in Seattle, watched our son’s soccer team win a game out west, and got photos in real-time from Bob in the Dominican Republic. I love how connected we can be even though we’re scattered.

But here’s the thing…I really don’t want to wake up a few years from now and realize I’ve wasted precious time staring at my dang phone, and I know I could if I don’t make some careful choices now.

I’ve been working on some safeguards and a personal key question that can help me make a decision easily when I’m clearly headed into cellphone-zombie-land.

I’ve got it boiled down to this so far:

Is this phone activity making me more awake to the life and love I want, or less?

I’ll let you know how it goes.

As a wellness coach I see firsthand that often all it takes is one small change to jump start a whole cascade of other big changes in our lives. With this in mind let’s consider a one week experiment – something that can open up some fresh spaces for us without too much work.

Look over the choices below and pick one – or design your own. One new thing for one week. That’s all.

Take your pick:

  • Take a week’s vacation from Facebook.
  • Turn off all phone notifications – no rings, dings or pings.
  • Declare mealtime and/or bedtime phone free.
  • Don’t check or answer work messages after work. Inform co-workers so they don’t think you’re dead.
  • Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity. Walk, swing, read a real book in a hammock, ride your bike. Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

Then reflect on your week and identify a few valuable take-aways and any next-steps you might want to take as a result of your observations.

I’m going to join you – and I would dearly love to hear what you discover…

PS – Don’t miss this 9 minute TED talk: Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy


Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash