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.

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

I Pigged Out!!! Now What?!?

Let’s assume you’ve gotten off the exhausting diet/binge roller-coaster and you’re now building a sane relationship with food. You’ve been practicing waiting on hunger, choosing food that satisfies, savoring it fully and stopping when you’ve had enough. What’s not to love?! You’re feeling good in your body and mind and you intend to continue living this way.

Then, the holidays hit.

What’s felt pretty balanced begins to feel messy and confusing again. Food is everywhere – and not just any food. It’s special food…food most of us have a long, tangled, emotionally-charged history with.

So, what do we liberated eaters do when we stumble back into old patterns?

Unlike our old dieting days, overeating doesn’t have to send us tumbling into a shame-filled downward spiral. This time we can actually redeem our stumbles. In fact…

We can learn more from doing it wrong than from doing it right.

Let’s take 3 Logical Lessons from the “Normal” Eater’s Playbook:

I. Relax, everybody overeats sometimes. Normal eaters don’t catastrophize overeating. We don’t have to either. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge that this is not the end of the world. You’re not “bad” because you’ve overeaten. You just feel bad.

II. Don’t punish yourself. Normal eaters don’t chastise themselves after they’ve overeaten. No extreme diet, exercise or cleanse is required. This foundational difference is one reason normal eaters don’t continually swing between eating too little and eating too much.

III. Go right back to what was working. Normal eaters are in sync with their body, so feeling uncomfortable elicits a natural response – not an emotional knee-jerk reaction. They may take a walk, skip the next meal or not eat till the next day. They may prefer lighter foods after a heavy meal. This isn’t about penance; it’s about listening to your body which is naturally seeking balance and health.

We have plenty of ways to remember to eat mindfully and joyfully this time of year – and – its mighty good to know that an overeating experience doesn’t have to hijack us or our holidays.

Mercy opens the door to wisdom, peace, and balance – three things we’ve been hungry for for a long long time.


*Thanks to TOMKAT Studio for the delicious photo