My relationship with food is ever evolving (and far from perfect) but has improved in the last few years as I began working more with Mindful and Intuitive eating. Right now I am working on a certificate program through the Center for Mindful Eating and will be interviewing Lynn Rossy, President of the Center for Mindful eating and author of “Savor Every Bite” and the “Mindfulness Based Eating Solution” on the Nourish and Shine podcast in July (so stay tuned!).

In my most recent interview with Erica Mather we briefly discussed that it can be hard to get started with Intuitive Eating as it feels like you are missing a step to all of a sudden go from not trusting yourself , negative emotions about food, etc. to complete and total trust, letting go of diet culture, etc. I think that’s where Mindful Eating can really play a key role.

Here’s the key principles from the Center for Mindful Eating’s Website:

Principles of Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally, in the present moment.
  • Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
  • Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment.
  • With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
  • Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Mindful Eating is

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom. 
  • Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.   
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
  • Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.

Someone Who Eats Mindfully

  • Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
  • Accepts that their eating experiences are unique.
  • Is an individual who by choice, directs their attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Gains awareness of how they can make choices that support health and well being.
  • Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of their food choices on those systems.

The most useful parts of mindful eating for me are:

  1. Taking a moment to appreciate my food, the process of cooking it, those who grew it, the vibrant colors and nourishing qualities.
  2. Smelling the food prior to eating it (as a bonus helps get your digestion going!).
  3. Making sure I’m relaxed and breathing calmly (I always recommend 3 deep breaths before starting a meal, although full disclosure sometimes I forget and start eating so I’ll do this half way through when I remember).
  4. Paying attention and honoring my hunger. I am still working on this one as it takes time and building trust, but previously I would often eat because it was time to eat without really checking in to see if I was hungry or not or if I did feel hungry I would ignore those feelings because it wasn’t “time” to eat yet.
  5. Noticing emotionally and physically how I feel prior to eating and how the food I ate made me feel afterwards without judgement but noticing and honoring those feelings.

Thanks to Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation I have been practicing twice daily (am, pm) short meditations (5-10 minutes each) as a way to build a relationship with my body (when a lot of my day is spent in my head). I shared a short meditation (at the top) that I learned from Emily called the “Come to Your Senses” Meditation. It is such a powerful tool to begin connecting with all of your senses and tuning into the body as you begin not to just be aware of your body as it’s perceived from the outside, but how you feel on the inside.

The next step is moving into Intuitive Eating. Here are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

6. Feel Your Fullness

7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

8. Respect Your Body

9. Movement—Feel the Difference

10. Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

One of the best parts of Intuitive Eating is that it’s not about eating all of the junk food you want because “intuitively” you feel like it, but instead “it’s making food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good” – to me this is nourishment on a physical level but also an emotional level. 

Both Mindful and Intuitive Eating are not about eating perfectly to be healthy and neither is intended to be a method of weight loss. Intuitive Eating points out “It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts” and I couldn’t agree more.

If you’re interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating consider signing up for my Mindful and Intuitive Eating group class coming up in September or I’d love to work with you one on one.

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Dr. Amy Sapola provides a practical approach to Whole Person Wellness through Culinary Medicine, Mindful Eating, and Connecting with Nature. 

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