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Food for Thought Handout Archive 2006 - 2013

www.thecenterformindfuleating.org


The Principles of Mindful Eating Our relationship to food is a central one that reflects our attitudes toward our environment and ourselves. As a practice, mindful eating can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, and insight into the roots of health and contentment. The mission of The Center for Mindful Eating, is to help people achieve a balanced, respectful, healthy and joyful relationship with food and eating. The Center for Mindful Eating has created principles intended to guide people who are interested in mindful eating. The Principles of Mindful Eating and the Food for Thought handouts in this publication may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes under our Creative Commons licensing.

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 Center for Mindful Eating ~ www.thecenterformindfuleating.org


Handout Topics

Food and Feelings:

The handouts in this archive are an ideal introduction to Mindful Eating and are listed here by their corresponding Food for Thought topic. Simply click the title to jump to your topic of interest.

Full Circle Awareness, page 14 Dh. Amala, Winter 2008

Food Triggers:

Handling Triggers, page 13 Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, Fall 2008

Acceptance:

Forgiveness:

Anger:

Fullness:

Balance:

Generosity:

Benefits of Mindful Eating Practice:

Gratitude:

Choice:

Honoring Our Experiences:

Compassion:

Loneliness:

Craving:

Multi-tasking and Mindful Eating:

Creating a Mindful Eating Practice:

Pausing:

Cultivating Curiosity:

Permission:

Take a Bite on the Wild Side, page 26 Donald Altman, MA, LPC, Spring 2011

Relapse Recovery:

Forgiveness Meditation, page 10 Ronna Kabatznick, Winter 2007

Finding Acceptance, page 32 Donald Altman, MA, LPC, Spring 2013

Finding Fullness, page 24 Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE, Spring 2011

No Quick Fix, page 25 Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW, Summer 2011

The Joy of Generosity, page 17 Donald Altman M.A., LPC, Summer 2009

Shopping Mindfully, page 5 Donald Altman, MA, LPC, Summer 2006 The Benefits of a Daily Eating Meditation Practice, page 19 Ronna Kabatznick, PhD, Winter 2009

Spice Your Food With Gratitude, page 18 Donald Altman MA, LPC, Fall 2009 Food: The Solution Not The Problem, page 4 Donald Altman M.A., LPC, Spring 2006

Choosing Your Way to Mindfulness, page 9 Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, Fall 2007

Overcoming Loneliness, page 29 Donald Altman MA, LPC, Summer 2012

The Healing Power of Compassion, page 30 Donald Altman, MA, LPC, Fall 2012

The Perils of Multitasking, page 35 Rebecca Gladding, MD, Fall 2013

Turning Your Crave Into A Wave, page 7 Ronald Thebarge, Ph.D, Spring 2007 How to Set Up a Mindful Eating Practice, pages 11 & 12 Ronna Kabatznick, PhD, Summer 2008

Your Natural Braking System, page 36 Donald Altman MA, LPC, Winter 2013 The Power of Permission, page 20 Char Wilkins, LCSW, Spring 2010

A Curious Stance, page 8 Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, Summer 2007

The Fourth Step, pages 15 & 16 Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD., CDE, Spring 2009

Expectations:

Being in the Moment, page 6 Jean Kristeller, Fall 2006

Satiety:

Satiety and Fullness, page 31 Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, CDE, Winter 2012

Family:

Mindful Eating: Help to Create Curious Kids, pages 33 &34 Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE, Summer 2013

Fear:

Overcoming Fear by Knowing Fear, page 21 Donald Altman, MA, LPC, Summer 2010 Are We Consuming Food or Information, page 28 Ronald W. Thebarge, Ph.D., Spring 2012

Slowing Down:

Slowing Down When Eating With Others, page 27 Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, Winter 2011

Weight Loss:

Right Eating, page 23 Brian M. Shelley M.D., Winter 2010 Thoughts that Flavor the Meal, page 22 Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE, Fall 2010

The Center for Mindful Eating ~ www.thecenterformindfuleating.org


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2006

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

•Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.

e a t i n g ?

•Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

•Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating Food: The Solution, Not the Problem

deeper purpose of food, as well as to the underlying desires and cravings for it.

Best of all, when mindful eating transforms food into a solution, the relationship to food has new and forgiving space in which to grow and change—and where all things are possible. Or, as Groucho Marx once said, “Man does not live by bread alone. Every now and then he needs a cookie.”

By Donald Altman, M.A.

When a person chooses to see that food is the solution, not the problem, they are often filled with a sense of relief. Why? I think it may be because it gives them hope, as well as permission to let go of their symptoms—even if for a moment. And, it may give them some space from the pervasive idea that a struggle with food is too difficult to be overcome. Besides, we all know how easily food can be abused. Writer Rita Mae Brown states this very nicely when she says, “Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself.” Fortunately, once food becomes a solution, hope is just around the corner. Turning that corner, however, takes a lot of time, effort, and discipline. A mindfulness approach to food is not a shortcut. In fact, it may be the long road to making peace with food, hunger and self-care. However, this is one case where a long road with several detours may make for a richer and more meaningful journey. Mindfulness can be taught in numerous ways and with endless variations. The one constant, perhaps, is that a mindful approach changes the eater’s relationship with food. And that makes all the difference. Food ceases to be viewed simply in terms of “good” or “bad.” Rather, food becomes connected to one’s feelings, body, and the world at large. It means awakening to the

skipping over or indulging in like a fast food meal?

Internet Resources Mindful Eating www.tcme.org There are three advantages to observing and describing one’s relationship with www.mindfuleating.org food. First, is a fundamental awareness of www.mindfulpractices.com patterns and behaviors. Begin to think of yourself as detectives (and not as hanging www.eatingmindfully.com www.balancedweightmanagement.com judges!). By paying attention you may begin to notice your food habits. For www.med.umich.edu/umim/clinical/ example: Do you use food as a reward? pyramid/index.htm Do you use food as a way to signal others Body Image for attention? www.beyondhunger.org A second advantage of knowing one’s www.bodypositive.com food relationship is that it generates compassion—towards oneself. www.hugs.com Compassion means, from the Latin, “to www.healthybodyimage.com be with suffering.” Compassion and Inspiration forgiveness allow a person to become more present with food and eating. www.getinspired.org www.gratefulness.org Thirdly, awareness of a food habits can shed light on other life patterns, as well as the relationship one has with her/him self. For example, one who continually skips meals or eats fast food, might ask: What other things in my life am I

Meditation www.tcme.org www.learningmeditation.com www.wccm.org

TCME is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2006

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

•Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.

e a t i n g ?

•Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

•Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating initially derived, it takes more and more By Donald Altman, M.A. of the “consumption drug” to feel the same high feeling. Before long, we are on the treadmill, and things we never cared The idea of “mindful shopping” might about before become things we now can’t seem like an oxymoron—two ideas or live without. words that could never go together. This is especially true in the U.S., where the average shopper is over stimulated an every way possible, from TV shopping networks to giant superstores that offer everything imaginable in family-sized quantities. Did you ever stop and consider how many advertisements, When we think about food as a distractions, or unwanted messages you consumable -- a novel thing that can give see or hear in a single day? For starters, a person pleasure -- an individual may advertising reaches you in numerous now experiencing this same hedonic ways, including television, the Internet treadmill effect. A person may find that (pop-up windows and e-mail), he eats far more than is necessary simply telemarketing, junk mail, product because it takes more and more food to placement in movies, advertisements feel good. For an individual who is placed either in or on magazines, struggling with compulsive overeating, newspapers, billboards, buses, benches, the hedonic treadmill effect can be elevator walls, gas pumps, and buildings. heightened by the thought that this No wonder it is estimated that the special food might run out. Let’s call this average adult is bombarded with 3,000 phenonomon “the scarcity treadmill”. ads a day! That is probably a conservative For tens of thousand of years in human number. history we didn’t know where that next Thirty years ago the business of meal would be coming from. Our genetic advertising caught the attention of Philip wiring helped us overcome this by telling Brickman and Donald Campbell, two us to fill up and consume as many psychologists at Northwestern calories as possible. Unlike the hedonic University to develop the theory called treadmill, which is driven by pleasure the hedonic treadmill. Their concept and reward, the scarcity treadmill is explained that people are genetically driven by fear, anxiety, and worry. This wired to seek out what is novel and scarcity treadmill can have a profound pleasurable. People get a positive feeling, effect on a person’s thoughts, food or reward, from buying novel things— choices and eating behaviors. How? new food items, clothes, electronic Many large and members-only stores gadgets, jewelry, etc.. Like an addict, offer food tasting along with an regardless of how much pleasure is abundant display of food that are

Shopping Mindfully

designed to trigger the urge to spend money. Combined with a “limited time offer” or a “special value size”, marketers are able to use fear and anxiety associated with the scarcity treadmill to entice a purchase -- even when it is not desired or necessary. So when you are shopping take a moment and let yourself look with ‘fresh eyes’ at the abundance and variety that is before you. Ask yourself: Is the eyecatching colors helping me make a choice or is it filling me with fear that my usual choice isn’t good enough? If you are going to purchase some fresh food notice the variety -- not only in types but in color, the shape and packaging that is before you. Then ask yourself: Is the variety filling me with a sense of appreciation for the abundance that has graced my life or is it filling me with fear that the food I choose won’t be quite right or I might need more? Choosing to become more mindful while shopping can help you become aware of which environments help you feel confident regarding your selection. This confidence can also extend to increase your enjoyment while eating.

Internet Resources Mindful Eating www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.balancedweightmanagement.com www.slowfoodusa.org

TCME is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2006

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

•Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.

e a t i n g ?

•Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

•Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Being in the Moment. By Jean Kristeller, PhD

“Be in the moment.” This is a phrase that is offered readily, sometimes superficially, sometimes as hard-won wisdom. But without some understanding of the underlying experience and meaning, it can sound like a cliché that ignores the complex hold of wishes, expectations, goals and fantasies on our usual sense of reality. If we are not ‘in the moment’, where are we? Often, with food, the irony is that we are everywhere else. We’re thinking ABOUT the food, we’re worrying about the calories, we’re watching TV, we’re reading, we’re talking, we’re judging ourselves as we put the next bite in our mouths, and then are more aware of the guilt than of the pleasure. Mindful eating can be done without meditation practice – but meditation practice is a powerful way of training ourselves to be ‘in the moment’. Watch, observe, bring the attention back over and over again to the moment. I use the metaphor of watching leaves floating down a stream as a way to capture the shift in our relation to the mind from usual thoughts to mindfulness. Our thoughts and experiences flow through our awareness like water flowing

along, complex, never quite the same, but still part of a whole. Our usual way of thinking is to notice a leaf, think about it, analyze it, and then associate to it – “ah, the first red leaf of the fall…is it a maple? …where did it fall in?…I wonder when leaves in my yard will turn…oh, dear, I need to buy a new rake…”. The mind has traveled in a few moments from fully experiencing the beauty of the river – to worrying about a shopping errand.

a twig…and then perhaps a piece of debris…and a leaf again. Noticing but not moving off onto some other thought about it. Staying in the moment with that particular experience. When this is done with the experience of eating, the experience changes. Attention is brought to the act of eating, to the pleasure, the satisfaction, to the subtle shifts as hunger is overlaid with fullness, to the choice of one more bite – or not. As this is experienced and practiced, mindfulness The meditating mind learns to stop and can be brought more and more easily to observe the leaf…then the next one…then the eating itself, in the moment. And this practice can then teach us to bring the experience of being ‘in the moment’ to other, even more complex, parts of life.

Jean Kristeller, PhD is a co-founder and President of TCME. She is a professor of psychology at Indiana State University.

Internet Resources Mindful Eating www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com. www.balancedweightmanagement.com www.slowfoodusa.org

TCME is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2007

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Turning Your Crave into a Wave By Ronald Thebarge, PhD

We’ve all experienced food cravings. We’ve all at some point continued to eat even after we’re full. Or we’ve felt driven to eat something even though we’re not hungry. We’ve all craved the quick sensation of the bite, a moment of pleasure, only to realize how fleeting it all is. Delight and joy from the morsel rapidly fade, followed by guilt, anger, and often more craving. When mindfulness is applied to craving, we find that the struggle lies not in the object of desire, or even with the urge itself. Rather the struggle lies in trying to get rid of the urge to eat, cursing the fact that it just won’t leave you alone. The problem is trying to make yourself not have what you clearly already have—a craving— and forgetting that having a feeling, thought, or physical reaction is not the same as acting it out. It is when the feeling flows into action that we feel even more

out of control, and pleasure is followed by dread. As an antidote to struggling with craving, G. Alan Marlatt, a psychologist with many years of meditation experience, has introduced a technique called “urge surfing.” Urge surfing is powerful because it does not try to control the feeling. Instead, we learn to respond to craving with nonjudgmental observation. Craving prompts curiosity rather than an immediate reaction. Left to follow its own path, craving is shown to have a beginning, a point of peak intensity, and a moment when it subsides, just like

a wave. By practicing awareness and observation, we can ride the wave with no desperate attempt to either direct it or escape it. The urge surfer learns that all cravings rise and fall without causing harm, because feeling an urge is not the same as acting on it. With practice, urges become cues for nonjudgmental, nonurgent, mindful observation. With persistence, the waves can be appreciated as part of a natural seascape rather than seen as unnatural disasters. Ronald Thebarge is a clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor at Brown Medical School. A board member of TCME, he specializes in behavioral medicine

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.mindlesseating.org

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2007

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

A Curious Stance

about something, fear recedes. By Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW When fear emerges, our curiosity usually becomes unavailable to us. Consider approaching your next They are like a seesaw. Since fear meal or snack with a curious and anxiety are common barriers stance. I wonder what this bite to mindfulness around food, will taste like? Am I hungry yet? curiosity is a tool to help us stay What will hit the spot right now? on track. That has an A curious stance interesting feel in my assists us in staying mouth – what does it in the present. We remind me of? What may find ourselves spices were used in curious about here? Does this bite something in the taste the same or a future, such as “I little different from wonder if this food the last one? Let’s will make me see, what does my sleepy this stomach feel like afternoon.” We can’t know the now? Can I sense the food in answer until the afternoon comes, there? so this is an opportunity to come Curiosity can be a useful way to back to the present moment. focus attention, a place to return Later, the question can be revisited to. We can at any time return to in the present, “Do I feel sleepy being curious by asking questions now?” and waiting for the answer in the It is easy to lose our curiosity moment. quickly. Our busy mind takes Curiosity and fear typically don’t over, and we are off and running coexist. When we are curious with thoughts of our day.

Remaining curious or returning to a curious stance over and over while eating allows us to explore different levels of awareness. Curiosity always assumes there is more in the present to observe and gain from. Which questions tend to work for you? The most basic questions are: “What am I aware of?” or “What is here for me right now about this experience with this food?” You may prefer more specific questions, such as those about taste, texture and fullness. Keep handy your favorite questions to encourage mindfulness. Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, is the author of Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists: Practice Workbook, 2006 and a free e-mail series of Tips. She is a Board Member of TCME and welcomes comments. www.mollykellogg.com.

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.mindlesseating.org

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2007

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Choosing Your Way to Mindfulness

your senses and making choices throughout the meal. Our choices are sometimes limited by simple By Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW habit. Habits are patterns of How often do you say “I have to behavior that we learn to do with control my eating” or “I can’t little attention. It is a wonder and eat…”? We humans do have a gift that our brains are capable of drive to control. When we have a developing degree of control over our habits. However, environment, we are safer when we rely on and we are more apt to get them too much, our needs met. So, in habits rob us of some ways, striving to choice. control ensures our When attending to survival. Exerting control the full process of over our food choices mindful eating, usually means following you have many rules, such as limiting calories or places to make choices. When to avoiding certain foods. This begin eating, which foods you eat external control takes us further or drink, where you eat, the away from mindful eating and utensils you use, the amount you eventually backfires. The antidote eat, the size of each bite or sip, to control is choice. how and for how long you chew, Look at the process of feeding the time between bites, what else yourself as a series of choices. you do or listen to during the How do you best make choices, meal…. The choices are endless. based on what? Mindful eating We all have habits that cause us to means choosing food that both eat certain ways unless we pleases you and nourishes your deliberately choose otherwise. To body. This means tuning in to all

broaden your habits, pick one type of choice and focus on it for a while. For example, for a few meals attend to the question “What bite size is just right for this food?” Support yourself with your language. Instead of control phrases such as “I should…” or “I have to…,” use choice words as you approach your meal. “I choose to eat in this chair today.” Or “I want to eat this soup warm, but not hot, so I will wait a few minutes.” I want to enjoy pie for dessert, so I will leave some of this pasta for tomorrow’s lunch.” Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, is the author of Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists: Practice Workbook, 2006 and a free e-mail series of Tips. She is a Board Member of TCME and welcomes comments. www.mollykellogg.com.

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.mindlesseating.org www.bodypositive.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2007

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

•Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

•Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

•Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating Next, we focus on forgiving others. Again, begin with small issues and build up to bigger ones, making a list if it’s helpful.

Forgiveness Meditation By Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D. Giving is part of forgiveness. When we give, we make an offering to ourselves and others, creating a willingness to make peace with the conflict and pain that fuel our anger, resentment, and bitterness. Although it feels easier to be critical― “I hate my body,” “She makes fun of my efforts to eat mindfully”―in fact, it’s actually easier to forgive. A form of letting go, forgiving creates a space to establish skillful habits and mind states that are in harmony with the desire to change. Forgiveness also diminishes the stress that comes from judging ourselves and others. The process begins by forgiving ourselves: our mistakes, feelings, and habits. From this perspective, everything is equally forgivable, whether it’s our laziness, self-hatred, impatience, large thighs, or tendency to overeat. Just the willingness to be mindful of what is calling for forgiveness is a radical step. It can be very helpful to make a list of the things you find hardest to forgive yourself for and to use the list in the following exercise. Sit in a quiet and comfortable place, in a relaxed sitting position. Repeat the following phrases until you complete your list. Begin with smaller things like “not getting enough exercise” and build

To the extent that I am able, I forgive my friend Mary for the hurt or harm I’ve experienced. Even if I can’t fully forgive her, I forgive myself for that. For as long as it takes, I will make the effort to offer Mary the priceless gift of forgiveness.

up to bigger issues such as “the habit of beating myself up for not being perfect.” To the extent that I am able, I forgive myself for any hurt or harm I have caused myself intentionally or unintentionally. To the extent that I am able, I forgive myself for not getting enough exercise. Even if I can’t forgive myself, I forgive myself for that. For as long as it takes, I will continue to offer myself the priceless gift of forgiveness. It’s helpful to do forgiveness practice every day, including any aspect of ourselves or our experience that could benefit from this practice.

With diligent practice, we begin to realize that forgiveness is a unique form of nourishment, a way of providing ourselves and others a spaciousness around our conflicts and difficulties. We no longer feel as alone, stuck, or doomed to fail. The resulting peace of mind provides an inner fullness that no amount of food can ever offer. Ronna Kabatznick is the author of The Zen of Eating: Ancient Answers to Modern Weight Problems. She is a professor at UCSF and a member of the TCME board of directors.

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.mindlesseating.org

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2008

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

How to Set Up a Daily Mindful Eating Practice By Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D

Eating is such a significant part of our daily lives, yet it’s so easy to be disconnected from it. In one moment, our plates are full, and in another, completely empty. What happened? We hardly tasted or consciously enjoyed even one bite.

We can change this mechanical way of eating by establishing a daily mindful eating practice. Make the commitment. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindful eating. Start with committing to eating one meal or snack mindfully each day – or even one part of a snack or meal – and then increase the amount of time every week or two, until you find you can do this with every meal or snack. If possible, try to choose a time when you can focus your attention, without a lot of distraction such as loud music or interruptions. Mindful eating includes many aspects: awareness of hunger, fullness, taste and choice. This practice focuses primarily on the taste experience.

two grapes, or slices of banana. As mindfulness grows and deepens, choose more challenging foods, such as a few chocolate chips or cookies.

Offer your full attention. Begin by picking up and holding the piece of food, such as a grape, in your hand. Allow your senses to become alive: smell the grape, notice its contours, shape, colors, how it feels in your palm, between Make a simple food choice. It’s your fingers. When the mind helpful to begin a mindful eating wanders to thoughts of the past or practice with a small amount of future, gently bring it back to the one type of food that is not a grape. There is no other grape like trigger food for overeating (a food it in the universe. Then, mindfully that doesn’t stimulate the desire to lift your hand and place the grape overeat). For example, a simple in your mouth. food choice may be a carrot, one or TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


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See if you can stay with the sensations as the grape reaches your tummy, and recognize that you have taken in the food value and nutrition of one grape.

and feel of this bite, the possibility of satisfaction opens. What does one bite offer? How many bites does it take to experience satisfaction? Let each bite reveal the answer.

Notice craving. Once you finish this entire process, and only then, reach for the next grape, if you choose. Notice if you’re tempted with the feeling of craving more, and if you are actually still physically hungry. You may notice Be mindful of thoughts and how mindfully eating just one feelings. There may be grape offers so much satisfaction. anticipation: “It’s going to be so Or, in the midst of eating this good. I hope there’s more.” Or, grape, the thought may arise: “If maybe there is a feeling of only I had a handful of nuts, I’d be disappointment: “It’s only a grape, happy.” When you are gripped by not a brownie.” Let the thoughts craving, the opportunity for come and let them go. satisfaction vanishes. Mindfulness Notice as flavors come and go. As brings you back to the present you begin to chew, notice the burst moment, to the direct experience of eating one bite at a time. of flavor, the tartness, the sweetness, as the grape breaks Taste directly. We can allow the down in your mouth. Notice that senses to come alive by just as the flavor begins to fade, experiencing taste directly. By there may be a strong desire to letting yourself stay with the taste want another grape, even when you’re still eating this one. See if you can relax. Stay with what you are actually experiencing, rather than going for that next hit of flavor.

The power of choice. There is tremendous power in bringing our body and mind together. It helps us see that we have a choice: We can actually taste and experience what we’re eating, or we can eat unskillfully and miss the whole thing entirely. As you become more attuned to tasting and mindfully recognizing the value of food, this practice can be a welcome companion each time you eat, whether you are alone or surrounded by many.

“Stay with what you are actually experiencing, rather than going for that next hit of flavor.”

2

Renew your daily commitment to mindful eating practice. Begin again and again. There are many insights and eating experiences to savor as the journey continues. Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D., is a TCME Board Member and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. rkabatznick@tcme.org

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.eatingmindfully.com www.bodypositive.com

TCME.ORG


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2008

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating information that something is By Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW bothering you. It is not uncommon for the first awareness to be of the desire for food. This desire does not “Trigger” is defined as anything that mean food is needed. It does mean serves as a stimulus and initiates a (quite reliably) that something is reaction or series of reactions. This happening. You can choose to use implies that every time the trigger is this information to pause and activated, the subsequent reaction is possibly explore your emotional state. automatic and inevitable. (For more useful ideas on response to How often have you heard or said, emotional triggers/cravings, see Food “That food triggers me to overeat.” for Thought, Spring 2007.) Or “When I see donuts, I have to eat When a particular them.” Or food seems to be a “That bad trigger for you, this news triggered is useful information me to eat.” All that your thoughts of these imply about this food are the giving the food more inevitability of power than it mindless deserves. (For more eating. Indeed, on the thoughts that the “triggers” propel us to for mindless mindless eating, see eating are often Food for Thought, emotional Spring 2006.) states or the

Handling Triggers

sight or thought of specific (often forbidden) foods. Shifting the words you use allows more choice. All these “triggers” can be viewed instead as useful information. The impulse to eat when emotionally activated is useful

Pausing is powerful. Research shows that placing a pause or break between the initial impulse to eat and the actual eating decreases the likelihood that you will eat if you are not physically hungry. Search for opportunities to practice pausing and

“Shifting the words you use allows more choice.” attending to your thoughts and emotional states. Practicing mindfulness daily helps cultivate attending to “triggers” as useful information, rather than as things automatically compelling you to act. You can practice in any number of ways, from formal sitting meditation to yoga to simply taking a few mindful breaths during the day. Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, is the author of Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists: Practice Workbook, Vol. 1 (2006) and a free email series of Counseling Tips for health professionals. She is a Board Member of TCME and welcomes comments at mkellogg@TCME.org; www.mollykellogg.com.

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.eatingmindfully.com www.bodypositive.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2008

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating may connect “good times” with the physical sensations of fullness, so we Dharmacharini Amala continue eating. Feelings do not stop “Full circle” awareness means there. Our food contact comes full noticing the coming and going of circle with impressions after we have many feelings through all phases of a eaten, such as enjoying lingering meal. Our feelings about food are as flavors or feeling regret from varied as seasonings from around the overeating. world and as ever present as our One way to develop mindful eating is breath. They accompany every aspect to check in at all these feeling stages: of our interaction with urge to eat, choice food and are linked to of food, eating and the broader field of our the amount life experiences through consumed, as well associations of time and as post-meal place, such as a feeling feelings. It can be of craving that may both satisfying and arise with the aroma of sometimes apple pie, which we link surprising to with “home” and notice the feelings something “special.” – both emotions Feelings signal that it is and physical time to eat. (I’m hungry; sensations – at I’m sad; Oh, this food every stage. looks delicious…) Sometimes our Feelings direct what we choose to eat. attentiveness begins to fade as the Often we select food to change or process of eating takes on a “fix” a particular feeling. (This will momentum of its own. Being mindful make me feel better; This will fill me of the feelings after we have eaten can up; This will cool me down; This will bring us back to ourselves, even if we satisfy…) Feelings play into how drifted during the meal. Was the food much we eat. We may try to alleviate satisfying? In what ways? Do the ongoing emotional stirrings or we flavors linger in a pleasing way? Do

Full Circle Awareness

we feel over-full? Just right? What is our mood now? Have we become dull or “checked out”? Have we eaten in a way that leaves our body working overtime to process the results? When we remember to notice the aftereffects of eating, we create continuity of awareness that may help us be more fully present the next time we eat. Mindful eating includes observing the feelings of one moment giving rise to the next, and one meal finishing, then soon another beginning. Full circle awareness encompasses the dynamic changes through each meal in a way that promotes acceptance and appreciation of the ever-present and continuing nature of our relationship with food. Dharmacharini Amala is a Mindfulness Instructor & the Program Director, Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmark NH. She can be reached at amala@tcme.org

Internet Resources www.tcme.org www.mindfuleating.org www.mindfulpractices.com www.slowfoodusa.org www.bodypositive.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2009

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

The Fourth Step

ability to notice and observe the little moments when you over eat By Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, or under eat is the first step. CDE Mindless habits are hard to see The Zen saying “Fall down seven and take patience to change. times, get up eight” summarizes There can be an irresistible force the necessary fourth step in driving you to eat, even when you relapse recovery – getting up. vowed to stop. In the beginning, How do you pick yourself up and habits are often invisible and are start again after overeating, noticed only after eating. Taking gaining weight or being diagnosed time to pause and notice what is with an illness that requires you to change your diet? The ability to get up after a setback is challenging for everyone. To assist you, try this four-step mindful eating approach to relapse recovery. There is benefit in catching problems early. The ability to see a problem when it is small, only a stitch, is the mindfulness skill of observation in action. When this skill is applied to eating, the so-called stitch, is a bite, a meal or a few days instead of months, years or decades of destructive eating. The

present, not what you think is present, has many benefits, including interrupting the cycle of mindless eating. For example, how often do you tell yourself that you want dessert after a meal, without ever actually asking, “How would eating dessert feel right now?” The second step is critical. It involves asking questions about the food choices. (Is there another choice I could make? Is this healthy? Do I like the options available?) Asking questions replaces the habit of making harsh judgments about your food choices. (That is not allowed because it is unhealthy or fattening.) Your questions can focus on three areas of learning: physical sensations such as hunger or fullness; awareness of thoughts that include your knowledge and experience; and noticing feelings such as cravings, frustrations or contentment. Applying this step might look like this: “How would eating dessert feel right now? Am I still hungry or am I feeling full?

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


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What is my experience when I eat practice. It can be a struggle at back up. When you take a dessert with this level of fullness? times; craving, fatigue, doubt, moment and ask questions, you Would I feel sad, angry or rushing or aversion will arise, often find hidden strength. You deprived if I didn't have dessert?” slowing your progress. Trust in the realize that, sure, this setback was Questions can generate a lot of truth that everyone who is trying hard, but you can deal with it. The different responses, and the to change struggles with these ability to eat more mindfully does emotions that arise are not always feelings. Everyone stumbles and not automatically make darker clear, simple or happy. It is easy to falls at some point in the change thoughts and difficult problems assume these darker, less attractive process. Falling is part of learning. disappear. The ability to eat feelings are wrong or mindfully helps you to mistakes. Resist the accept these thoughts and 4 Steps for Recovery Relapse urge to reject these problems and to continue to feelings because they When you feel yourself slipping off your mindful “get up” even when they are are harder to tolerate eating practice, try these four steps. To learn more present. and keep asking about mindful eating, visit www.tcme.org. Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE, questions. is a dietitian, diabetes educator and co1. Notice moments and situations when you engage founder and executive director of

The third step is in destructive eating. Look to make small TCME. She can be reached at practicing these two adjustments to the bite, the meal or the day when megrette@tcme.org skills. The you are less mindful. Don’t wait weeks, months foundation of or years before you take action. Suggested Mindful mindful eating is 2. Take time to pause and become aware of what is Eating Handouts built on observation present, not what you think is present. This and curiosity. The following patient-care interrupts the cycle of mindless eating. Become Creating the handouts can be found on curious when you eat. Ask questions with each intention to notice the TCME Web site by bite. the many sensations, clicking the Newsletter link 3. Practice observing and asking questions even thoughts and feelings on the left-hand side. during moments when darker emotions such as that are present •Benefits of Committing to a Daily craving, fatigue or doubt arise. when eating is Eating Meditation Practice, R. 4. Acceptance that everyone struggles and falls necessary. (To learn Kabatznick. Winter 2009 down when changing. Forgiveness, more about creating •Creating a Mindful Eating understanding and empathy provide energy and a mindful eating Practice, R. Kabatznick. Summer motivation to help you start again. practice, visit 2008 www.tcme.org.) •Turning Your Crave Into a Wave, These two skills will It may not be the way you want to R. Thebarge. Spring 2007 strengthen your ability to tolerate learn, but it is often the moment • A Curious Stance, M. Kellogg. the darker feelings that arise. You you remember most. Summer 2007 don’t have to like these feelings. The fourth step in relapse recovery • Choosing Your Way to Mindfulness, However, without accepting that M. Kellogg. Fall 2007 darker feelings exist, it is difficult – is getting up again. Seeing this as if not impossible – to learn how to part of the learning cycle often • Forgiveness Meditation, R. Kabatznick. softens the fall. Staying present is Winter 2007 change them. a life jacket, a touchstone, a • Being in the Moment, J. Kristeller. Fall In time, patterns emerge from this centering force, helping you get 2006

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TCME.ORG


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2009

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating with their masks. The point here is clear: There are times when you need By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC to take care of your own well-being and health in order to help and give Do you put the needs of others before to others. your own? Would you rather please In terms of meals and food, there are others than express your own several ways to offer yourself this emotions and wants? Do you believe form of self-giving and generosity. that putting yourself first is an act of For example, instead of rushing your selfishness? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then food generosity practice could be valuable “By asking for help, you for learning how to be generous to yourself. Generosity is an important are actually giving.” aspect of creating a healthy relationship with food, as well as being an essential part of mindfulness. Practicing generosity is meal or eating convenience food on the run, you can take the time to especially useful for sensitive people prepare a healthful meal. By choosing with food issues who find it difficult nourishing foods and allowing your to express emotions – and who give body to receive it with thankfulness too much to others while neglecting and acceptance, you are generously their own needs. giving to all of your body: the heart, Usually, we think of giving as an act the bones, the lungs, the muscles, the that we do for another person. But the brain, and more. You could say that fact is that generosity begins with eating is the ultimate form of giving oneself. If you have ever been on an because it enables you to have the airplane, then you are familiar with energy to help others. You can also the safety drill that the flight practice generosity by allowing attendants give before the plane takes yourself to truly appreciate, enjoy and off. When demonstrating how to use savor food by slowly and mindfully the oxygen masks, the attendants tell tasting and chewing it. passengers to put their own masks on first, and only then to help children

Joy of Generosity

Another positive way to offer selfgenerosity is by asking for assistance from others, whether for developing a meal plan, working with a professional, or getting help managing food portions and exercise. When you ask for help, you are allowing another to share and give in return. As Saint Francis of Assisi says in his wise Simple Prayer, “For it is in giving that we receive.” By asking for help, you are actually giving. One last way of being generous with food involves sharing food as a resource with others. This could be expressed in such ways as inviting someone to dinner who would enjoy companionship, sharing or making food for someone who is sick or in need, or volunteering for a food bank or other food organization. This does not mean that you have to “give until it hurts,” but that everyone has worthwhile gifts to share. Each day offers a new way to invite generosity into your practice of eating mindfully. Which ones will you discover today for yourself – and for others? Donald Altman, LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and award-winning writer. His Web site is at www.mindfulpractices.com or contact him at: info@mindfulpractices.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2009

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Spice Your Food with Gratitude

You can practice gratitude right now by simply looking around the room or space that you inhabit. Is By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC there a color or an object that you find pleasant or that you can Do you ever find yourself at war appreciate? Look until you find with food and eating? Are you something, and then see if you can tired of living in a battle zone? Are feel a sense of gratitude for this you exhausted from trying to object being present. Someone control food? If so, you may want created it or brought it into the to shift your focus from control to gratitude. The word gratitude has a “Gratitude packs a powerful long history. The ancient Latin punch. It is strong enough to word gratitudo, which means being reduce depression and produce thankful and pleasing, is closely happiness.” connected to the word grace, that short blessing or prayer before or after the meal. In this sense, room so you could enjoy it. gratitude is a spiritual practice. Congratulations on brewing up some instant gratitude! Gratitude centers on the little

soil, and the vast network of people who planted, cultivated, and made the food available for you.

Now, you may think that gratitude could hardly make much of a difference in your day. Research shows that gratitude packs a powerful punch. It is strong enough to reduce depression and produce happiness. Remember, you don’t need to have a formal ritual or grace with your meal to change your perspective. Simply spice up your meal with gratitude. Doing so will help you become more aware of the blessings you have in your life, instead of focusing on deprivation. Gratitude is contagious. The more grateful things, often things we tend to You can bring this same approach you are for the food you eat, the overlook. The Japanese tradition of to the food that is before you when more mindful you become each The Way of Tea, for example, time you eat. Gratitude alone can you eat. Noticing anything appreciates all the objects used in pleasing about your meal – such as make your experience and making and drinking the tea – the the colors or smell of the food – is connection with food more delicate bamboo whisk, the iron a good way to invite gratitude. Or, meaningful and spiritual. teakettle, and the beautifully you might take a moment to have Donald Altman, LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and award-winning writer. His designed teacups – with a sense of gratitude for all the energy that Web site is a twww.mindfulpractices.com or thankfulness and gratitude. went into this food: the water, the contact him at: info@mindfulpractices.com. sunlight, the nutrients from the TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2009

Food for Thought W h a t

• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.

i s

m i n d f u l

• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.

e a t i n g ?

• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating The Benefits of Committing to a Daily Eating Meditation Practice

are. They come and they go, and if you don’t react, they lose their power. You can learn how to be with your experience, but not be caught by it.

With daily practice, you strengthen the By Ronna Kabatznick,Ph.D. capacity to stop and notice habituated, unskillful patterns with clarity. This awareness The initial experience of mindfully eating a helps dissolve autopilot behaviors. You realize blueberry, a piece of chocolate, a potato chip, that “Oh, this is what feeling out of control is or any other food is often a revelation.   like,” or “Feeling like a failure feels like Perhaps for the first time, you woke up to the this.” If you don’t run away from these full experience of what is commonly called “eating.” Just one moment of conscious eating feelings but rather recognize and accept them often triggers many insights. “I never realized with compassion, you may find that you don’t need to drown out these uncomfortable how satisfying one morsel of food could feelings with food.  be.” “I appreciated what I was eating in an entirely new way.” “Slowing down helped me observe all the thoughts, fears and criticisms that were jumping around in my mind.” Typically, a first experience of mindful eating may also include the wish or the determination to eat mindfully all the time. Then you find yourself in a hurry or with a group of people, and you notice, as you stare down at an empty plate, that you haven’t been conscious of eating at all. That earlier determination to always eat mindfully vanishes in a flash, and you think, why bother?  So how do you overcome the desire to give up or turn away from mindful eating? The answer is simple: Commit to a daily mindful eating practice.  Mindfulness allows you to observe what’s happening moment to moment from a wider perspective. When difficult thoughts arise, you learn to witness rather than obey them. In so doing, you begin to realize that your thoughts and feelings aren’t really who you

A daily eating meditation practice also helps awaken you to the thought patterns and habits that tend to keep you feeling trapped and demoralized, such as the belief that “I’ll never be able to change,” or the intense feeling that leads to the thought “I have to have this cookie.” Daily practice helps develop confidence, a feeling that is often absent when in the grips of craving or strong emotions. Awareness gives you the option of choosing which habits to develop and which to abandon, and this freedom to choose helps develop the confidence that change is possible.  Mindful eating doesn’t always awaken insight and delight. Sometimes the commitment feels meaningless and not worth the effort. Ups and downs are inevitable. But over time, your commitment will bear fruit, no matter how many times you feel like giving up. There’s a Zen saying, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

When you wake up to an experience like shoving handfuls of candy into your mouth, don’t make it into a problem. Just stop and notice that you’re doing it, and notice what you’re thinking or feeling. If criticism and judgments arise, and it’s likely they will, let them be. Hold yourself with kindness and compassion. Eventually, all experiences pass, regardless of whether they are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. As the poet Rilke observes, “No feeling is final.” Shifts in eating habits don’t happen through control and willpower. If that were the case, all diets would be wildly successful and there would be no eating challenges. Only by noticing and accepting what’s happening in each moment is it possible for new habits to emerge.  A regular mindful eating practice has the capacity to usher in a transformation. When you observe swallowing or chewing, in that moment you’ve dissolved the habit of blindly engaging in these processes. Pay attention to simple actions like opening the refrigerator or slicing a carrot or the impulse to take another bite before you’ve even finished whatever you’re eating. Every moment of mindfulness adds up and inspires more practice.  The ultimate feeling of fullness is connection and intimacy with this moment. So, put down this handout, turn your attention inward and ask, “What’s happening now?” And in this moment, you’ve begun your daily practice. Awareness is an ongoing source of nourishment … so feast on every moment.  Dr. Kabatznick can be reached at  Rkabatznick@tcme.org. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute  University of CA, San Francisco

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2010

Food for Thought W h a t

i s

m i n d f u l

e a t i n g ?

• Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

The Power of Permission

of it and change our relationship to that forbidden food. Simply By Char Wilkins, LCSW becoming aware that we are When we deny ourselves foods we engaging in a battle of imaginary enjoy, we are usually trying to wills is an important first step. push away When we deprive “bad” things or ourselves, unpleasant we initially thoughts or hang feel strong. on to “good” But when times and we “cave thoughts. Both in,” we feel take a lot of weak, as energy and though the attention. We food itself become obsessed has power about not eating a over us. particular food by Becoming endlessly thinking about how not mindful of this cycle, we can begin to eat it. Or we imagine how to see how this keeps us yo-yoing “good” we are because we aren’t eating the forbidden foods, which from one extreme to another: strong, then weak; powerful, then keeps us thinking about how not powerless. to eat them. We end up spending huge amounts of time thinking Giving yourself permission to about food – exactly what we have chocolate isn’t the same as don’t want to do! “giving in” or “giving up.”

What would it look like to give yourself permission?

Permission is a mindful agreement Surprisingly, giving ourselves permission can take the “fight” out with yourself to allow yourself a

favorite food. This requires slowing down, acknowledging feelings, sensations and thoughts, exploring choices, and making a decision. This process is very different from mindless behavior on autopilot. What would it look like to give yourself permission? It might be reminding yourself that you can have some of that favorite later. Or maybe that you can have a small amount now that really satisfies your craving, comforts or soothes you. It could mean sitting down and allowing yourself to enjoy each bite of the desired food, savoring it with all your senses. Taking the fear, anger and anxiety out of eating by offering yourself mindful, kindly permission can help you feel less powerless and more in control. Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW, serves on the TCME board and is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist. She is the owner/director of the Center for Mindful Living in Connecticut. She can be contacted at www.amindfulpath.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2010

Food for Thought W h a t

i s

m i n d f u l

e a t i n g ?

• Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Overcoming Fear by Knowing Fear

watching a scary movie over and over where the ending is always the same. That’s why fear gives us By Donald Altman M.A., LPC the sense of being stuck and As a former senior mental health hopeless. So is there a way out of therapist at an intensive outpatient eating clinic, I dined often with patients—making sure they ate all their food. I saw individuals filled with anxiety and frozen in fear with the idea of taking another bite or trying to consume a “challenge” food, such as a slice of pizza, a serving of pudding, or a small scoop of ice cream. Do you fear food? If “Show a baby a fat-free so, you are not alone. There are many chronic dieters and salad or a chocolate pie health addicts who have and it will not flinch from irrational food fears that are either. Fear of food is not restricting their lives and food innate, but learned.” choices—often to the point of physical and emotional illness. the fear cycle? What exactly is fear? Fear is related to the need to escape or avoid a danger that is real or perceived. Fear can even be the memory of a threat. Giving in to an unrealistic food fear is much like

Fortunately, mindfulness moves you past fear, and it does this by letting you closely examine and observe fear and anxiety, as if from a safe distance. Imagine this to be

like turning on the lights in the movie theatre so you can tell yourself, “It is only a movie that I’m getting frightened by.” You can, for example, ask yourself these questions: What really triggers my fear? When did it first begin? Where do I notice the sensation of fear in the body? Is my fear connected with an image? If so, try to notice the image in as much detail as possible. Fear of food is not innate. Show a baby a fat-free salad or a chocolate pie and it will not flinch from either. Fear of food is not innate, but learned. Fortunately, what can be learned can also be unlearned. Remember, scary movies don’t really make a whole lot of sense when you turn on the lights of curiosity, clear knowing and seeing. Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and author of The Mindfulness Code and Meal by Meal. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com and www.mindfulpractices.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2010

Food for Thought W h a t

i s

m i n d f u l

e a t i n g ?

• Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Thoughts That Flavor the Meal

Let it rest in your mouth for a moment before chewing. With your next bite, notice how the

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE food feels in your mouth. Is the bite

It is amazing to notice how much thoughts can influence whether a situation is viewed as “good” or “bad.” It is common for those scheduled for bariatric surgery (and even after surgery) to have worries about the unknown, hopes and expectations for the future, and questions related to the surgery itself. If these types of thoughts are present when eating, consider trying this suggestion. Before you take a bite, pause and fill your lungs with air. Then slowly let the breath out. Now, observe the food before you. Look at it, noticing any labels of “good” or “bad,” “allowed” or “forbidden.” If this is hard to do, take another breath and slowly exhale – relax. Allow yourself to be a witness to the experience of eating a meal: Its shape, color and texture. Now, take a bite.

size comfortable? Does it feel too big to chew easily or too small to really taste the flavor? If the size of the bite was not pleasant, adjust the amount you select so you can actually taste the bite, chewing it a little bit longer each time before you swallow. Experiment with sizes and how long you chew each bite.

If uncomfortable feelings are present while eating, take a deep breath. Fill your lungs with air, and then slowly let this air out. Remind yourself that you are not “bad,” “stupid,” “a failure” or “wrong.” These are just the thoughts and feelings that are with you. They are not facts. For many individuals, the thoughts that are present when eating contribute a large part to how the meal tastes. An important question to ask is: Are these thoughts helping me enjoy the food in my mouth?

Now that you have had a few bites, ask yourself: Did slowing down and chewing my food feel new, different, or maybe a bit uncomfortable?

Practicing eating in a mindful way is more than seeing what and how much you eat. It is learning to welcome the thoughts that are present when you eat. This process of opening up can profoundly change the taste of the bite. At times you Eating in a mindful way may realize it is your thoughts that allows you to “wake up” are actually flavoring the meal. and notice new things. Noticing each bite can help you These things may include taste, season the meal with thoughts you texture, or even how much food is enjoy. selected for each bite. Frequently the Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE, is a coinformation received does not stop founder of TCME. She is a diabetes educator there. When a person eats mindfully, and contributes to the blog site she may notice how some thoughts mindfuleatinganddiabetes.com. She can be can trigger anxiety, anger and reached at megrette@megrette.com. desperation, making these emotions part of the meal.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2010

Food for Thought W h a t

i s

m i n d f u l

e a t i n g ?

• Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Right Eating

may sound trite, but participants in our Mindful Eating and Living Brian M. Shelley M.D. course in Albuquerque, N.M., Although a new year is an obvious have reported that mindful eating opportunity for a new approach to generally leads to more health, the satisfaction concept of from less By adopting a more “weight loss” food, with may be a set-up mindful approach to more good for failure. feelings after eating, we can make the meal too! Immediately, the idea of a “loss” is more of what is in After about front and center. front of us, and more four weeks of This implies a practicing loss of favorite fully enjoy the food mindfulness foods and that we do choose to meditation ingrained habits, for at least 10 and a subtle eat. minutes a sense of day and deprivation can trying to eat more mindfully in set in even before getting started. general, one female participant A better term might be “right said: eating,” which does not require a I also noticed ... that after loss of any kind, but instead a dinner if I feel like I need to eat gain. By adopting a more mindful something sweet, I’ll have a approach to eating, we can make half an orange. It seems that more of what is in front of us, and when I have the sweet from the more fully enjoy the food that we orange, that’s enough. I don’t do choose to eat. This concept feel like I have to go search

something else out to eat like a cookie or a pastry or something. I kind of feel like, “Oh, that’s enough.” I can go actually without having anything else. This woman has created options for herself via right eating. She lost weight, but not by concentrating on loss and deprivation. Mindful eating provides a means for enhancing satisfaction and pleasure in and around eating, which is our “gain.” Brian M. Shelley, M.D., is a TCME board member and Wellness Director, First Choice Community Healthcare, Albuquerque, N.M. He can be contacted at bshelley@salud.unm.edu.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2011

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Finding Fullness

Between hunger and fullness is the number zero, and this is the most By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE important number to notice when What would happen if you always finding fullness. Zero is the point when you are neither hungry nor knew when to stop eating? You full. It is also the moment in eating could sense when you had eaten enough food and simply put your where you can shift your intent from satisfying hunger to finding fork down. Take a moment and fullness. think: Would this ability improve your health? When you If you believe that stopping eating when you are comfortably full will help your health, then consider using the following hunger/fullness scale. This tool can be helpful to discover a comfortable level of fullness when eating. The rating scale below is divided into three sections. Numbers 10-7 is when either hunger or fullness is painful and unpleasant, 6-4 is when hunger or fullness is comfortable, and 3-1 is when hunger or fullness is slightly noticeable. ( H u nge r )

10 9

8 7

6 54321

mealtime, reducing eating distractions, and intentionally noticing and rating current physical sensations like fullness.

You may notice that once you have satisfied your acute hunger, the taste of food changes. It may still taste good; however, the amount of enjoyment you receive from each bite is less and less until come to finally eating is no longer this point, pleasurable. In fact, eating past a put your comfortable level of fullness fork down becomes painful, both physically and silently and emotionally. tell The ability to find a comfortable yourself, level of fullness is a skill that you “When I were born with. It can be am reclaimed as you become more comfortably full, I will stop aware of the physical body cues of eating.” As you prepare to exit the fullness and hunger. In doing so, a meal, slow down after each bite new sense of health and welland check in continuously with being is created by not overeating your belly. The ability to and is enjoyed after the meal. recognize the absence of hunger is Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE, is a coenhanced by slowing down at

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ( Fu llne ss)

founder of TCME, author, dietitian and diabetes educator and contributes to a number of mindful eating blogs, including www.resourcesformindfuleating.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2011

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating drive our desire to eat — and often overeat — foods that soothe us, By Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW comfort us, and relieve and suppress those very emotions. These feelings Have you ever noticed how anger can often seem to take over and both motivate us and keep us stuck? immobilize us to the point where we Sometimes anger gives us the sense feel we have no choice but to eat, that we are doing something about a purge or deny ourselves. painful situation, troubling thoughts or habits we don’t Through the practice of like. mindfulness, we can develop new skills and When it comes to the strength to explore disordered eating the habits that patterns, we usually undermine mindful aim the angry-finger eating. Mindfulness at society, the media, asks that we don’t our history or ignore or pretend angry ourselves. “There’s feelings don’t exist. always so much food Mindfulness means at every office turning toward them meeting,” or “It’s the even when that’s endless food difficult. In time, with commercials on TV,” gentle curiosity, we can or “I deserve this after learn to be with those a day like today,” or “If I had an overwhelming feelings of shame, ounce of willpower, I wouldn’t eat anger, sadness and fear.. like this.” After we’ve aimed and fired, we often experience the Acknowledging that there is no quick backlash: an empty helplessness that fix, you might begin by leaves us feeling defeated, hopeless, experimenting with slowing down. ashamed and, once again, angry. All As a way of taking better care of of these uncomfortable and unwanted yourself, try taking one breath in and emotions are often the very ones that out before each bite of food, or pause

No Quick Fix

Mindfulness asks that we don’t ignore or pretend angry feelings don’t exist. Mindfulness means turning toward them even when that’s difficult. to notice the color, texture, shape, smell and taste of the food before you. By deliberately engaging your senses, you can bring a gentle curiosity to

habituated and automatic behaviors that no longer serve you, and open the door of awareness that leads to healthier possibilities and choices. Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW, serves on the TCME board and is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist. She is the owner/director of the Center for Mindful Living in Connecticut. She can be contacted at www.amindfulpath.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2011

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Take a Bite on the Wild Side

to use an attitude of openness and curiosity in your next meal or snack. Even one new food a week

By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC

Are you using your taste buds to their fullest extent? The human tongue has more than 10,000 taste buds that can sense sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness and umami – which is a meaty, brothlike flavor. This nuanced taste apparatus enables us to savor and sample from food’s amazing diversity. Did you know, for example, that there are thousands of varieties of apples? The average grocery store contains thousands of items, and yet, how many of us stick to buying the same things or eating the same meals over and over… and over? Booorrring! The antidote to food boredom is flexibility and curiosity, and your taste buds are ideal for experimenting with different foods and food combinations. One way to “take a bite on the wild side” is

(or daily) can broaden your awareness and open you to the possibility of eating new and exciting foods. Once a day for the next week, stop and notice what you might habitually eat at mealtime or for a snack. Then, take a moment of pause and give yourself

permission to choose a different food or a different flavor. Suppose you are in the grocery store looking for a dip for crackers or chips. You might choose something like hummus (ground chickpeas with a variety of tasty ingredients ranging from garlic to lemon juice) instead of your regular choice. When dining out, replace that standard burger with a wrap or another dish that is new to you. If you are stuck on the same green veggies night after night – such as broccoli, asparagus or spinach – experiment with cooking with kale or sugar snap peas. Use arugula in your salad instead of romaine. You may discover there’s something to the adage “Variety is the spice of life.” It’s also a mindful eating practice. Enjoy it often. Donald Altman, LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, award-winning writer, and author of the new book OneMinute Mindfulness. He currently serves as Vice President of TCME. His website is www.mindfulpractices.com. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2011

Food for Thought W h a t

i s

m i n d f u l

e a t i n g ?

• Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Slowing Down When Eating With Others

Combine this with a little stretching, such as rolling your head in a circle or rolling your By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC shoulders to lessen tension.

It’s easy to get mindless when eating in social situations. Eating at a party, with family members, or at holiday gatherings can trigger strong emotional feelings. Eating with “food pushers” who constantly try to make you eat more food can be unpleasant, to say the least. Fortunately, there are four mindfulness skills that can help you manage these and other challenging situations: pausing, pacing, slowing down, and being flexible. 1) Slow down. Get grounded before socializing. Spend a few moments to center yourself before entering a party or sitting down at the dinner table. Take some long, satisfying diaphragmatic breaths to reduce your stress or anxiety level.

“Remember that you don’t have to be perfect when eating with others.”

2) Pace your eating. This means checking in with your hunger. It helps to rate your hunger on a 1-10 scale (1 the least, 10 the most). If your hunger is in the 7-10 range, eat some food in advance. This

way it will be easier for you to eat moderately and pace yourself. 3) Pause while eating. Find ways to take a moment of rest. Put down your fork or spoon. Take a few breaths. Use this time to be attentive to others and to check in with your hunger level. To guard against “food pushers,” learn to place smaller portions on your plate at any time. Give yourself permission to say “No, thank you” to more food. 4) Be flexible. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect when eating with others. No one is a “perfect” eater. There are no “perfect” foods. With pacing, pausing and slowing down, you can mindfully navigate social eating challenges while also enjoying the food and the company. Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and author of The Mindfulness Code and Meal by Meal. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com and www.mindfulpractices.com and www.mindfulnesscode.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2012

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Are We Consuming Food or Information?

Advice about food flows from many sources. Each source serves a different master and each has its By Ronald W. Thebarge, Ph.D. virtues and limitations. Is it scientific advice? Then it must be Let’s face it: We have to eat in certain! Is it from an admired order to live. Most of us residing celebrity? Then it must be in the developed world are both respectable! Is it from an blessed and cursed with choices advertisement? Then it must be a about what to consume: blessed that we can express and satisfy our scam! Everyone is eating this likes and dislikes, but cursed with super-food or avoiding that beverage! Why aren’t you? having to decide from among so many options simultaneously labeled “good” and “bad,” depending on whom one asks. Instead of simply consuming food, we also consume information about the food. It’s enough to cause indigestion!

“...keep in mind that there is a middle ground between the extremes of all or none.”

The bottom line is that our knowledge about food, health and everything else is imperfect, incomplete and ever changing. Whatever we discover or advice

we get is best thought of as a point to consider, not the ultimate conclusion. When something does seem compelling and convincing, keep in mind that there is a middle ground between the extremes of all or none. If it turns out to be useful, you can continue in that direction. If it turns out to be flawed, you can always change course. Perhaps the best type of advice about food comes from Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn, who discussed the example of eating a carrot: “Don’t put anything else into your mouth, like your projects, your worries, your fear, just put the carrot in.” Both body and mind are united to experience eating the carrot, not information about the carrot. That’s the essence of mindful eating. Ronald Thebarge, Ph.D., is a board member and former Vice President of TCME. He is a psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University. He can be reached at info@tcme.org

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2012

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Overcoming Loneliness

this feeling as loneliness or boredom, allow yourself to sit By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC with the feeling until you can give it a name. Take as much time as Loneliness may be one of the you need and be patient with biggest causes of emotional eating. yourself. Take a break and try Sometimes, it’s difficult to know another time if it’s too difficult to that this emotion is even the do this at one sitting. You may find culprit. If you often eat when that the simple act of being present alone, or even avoid with the eating with others and feeling and prefer to remain giving it a isolated, loneliness has name can to be considered as give you one of the usual some suspects that results in immediate unbalanced eating relief. behavior. If you eat Step two when lonely or bored, involves then loneliness is using the eating at you. awareness you have gained by Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be naming the feeling to engage in a that way. What follow are three steps to coping with the loneliness healthier coping skill. If you are feeling lonely, then you need to do in a healthy way. something about it. Get out a sheet The first step is to sit with the of paper and write down a short uncomfortable feeling and clearly action plan. This could include identify the emotion it represents. such things as calling a friend or If you haven’t already identified

making plans to increase your social connections—such as going to a class, a church, or even sitting at a coffee house where you can interact with others. If bored, make a list of all the enjoyable hobbies or activities that you could do in that moment instead of eating. Step three is where you take action. This includes making calls and scheduling your meetings with others. By doing this, you are taking action to deal with the root issue that is causing mindless eating. As you bring the joy of friendship and supportive resources into your life, you may notice that loneliness is no longer eating away at you—and that’s a good feeling. Donald Altman, LPC, is a psychotherapist, and author of OneMinute Mindfulness. Donald consults and leads mindfulness workshops around the country. His website is www.mindfulpractices.com. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2012

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating perfectionism is unforgiving and leaves no room to be flexible and adaptable. Remember, the rigid and brittle branch snaps in two By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC during a windstorm while a We live in a culture where high flexible branch can bend and not achievement and perfectionism are break. lauded and desired traits. And yet, when it comes to eating, perfectionism can lead to feelings of failure, loss of selfconfidence, and shame. The good news is that compassion is the salve that heals the wounds caused by selfcriticism and self-blame.

The Healing Power of Compassion

The early meaning of the word compassion is “to be with suffering.” Certainly, food and eating perfectionism causes suffering because it is unrealistic and not sustainable. The idea of attaining perfection with anything —especially with regard to eating, finding ‘perfect’ foods, or maintaining the perfect diet— inevitably leads to frustration and loss of self-esteem. That’s because

amount of intelligence you have, the burden of pain that you have?” Anytime that you feel self-blame or that you have “failed” with food, know that you have many more meals to eat in a lifetime. Each meal offers you the opportunity to practice compassion toward yourself. Invite compassion into your life, one bite, one meal at a time. Let it help you welcome flexibility and patience into your life.

Donald Altman, LPC, is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, A compassionate approach to eating helps you be flexible, letting award-winning writer, and author of the new book One-Minute Mindfulness. you bend and not break Other books include 12-Weeks to Mindful emotionally when things don’t go Eating, Meal By Meal, The Mindfulness as planned. Author Pema Chodron Code, and Art of the Inner Meal. Donald asks some questions that can help consults and leads mindfulness workshops around the country. He you find the path to compassion, currently serves as Vice President of when she writes, “Right now, TCME. His website is today, could you make an www.mindfulpractices.com. Contact: unconditional relationship with info@mindfulpractices.com

yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, the

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2012

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating stops. People will note that food was still on their plate, there were chips in By Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, CDE the bag, or ice cream in the dish. When the emotional experience of Have you ever noticed how some satiety is reached after fullness has meals are very rewarding and you arrived, the meal can eat a relatively small amount of can often cause food while other meals may leave you physical full but still hungry for more? Satiety discomfort or is the level of satisfaction a person has trigger food after eating. This is different than guilt. fullness which is referring to the physical weight or volume of food in How mindful the stomach. eating can help

Satiety and Fullness

To explain this concept more, imagine eating lettuce. Most people can eat a lot of lettuce. After eating the lettuce, they may feel full but not satisfied. Eating in the presence of fullness is a common experience for many people. This often happens because the physical sensation of fullness arose before the emotional experience satiety or meal satisfaction. In every meal these two forces are present. They are engaged in a race to see who gets to the end of the meal first. When a person can recognize the emotional experience of satiety before the physical experience of fullness, the meal is often thought of as pleasant, enjoyable and satisfying. In these moments, the desire to eat

The first way mindful eating can help is to understand that the purpose of eating has shifted and the goal is to no longer to feel full but satisfied. The intent of eating is to eat a meal that has a level satiety that is pleasing to you. Choosing to eat foods that are both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste is a principle of mindful eating. To do this try the following suggestions. Select three different foods from three different food groups. If you are not sure which foods are in which food group, visit MyPlate.Gov. The nutrient competition and calorie

density of foods contribute greatly to the experience of satiety. Eating low calorie foods often can promote fullness but not satiety. The experience of never feeling satisfied after eating can lead to habitual overeating. Continue to use your senses when selecting a meal. Choose a meal that has three distinct colors. This step uses the sensory experience of your eyes. Next choose three distinct textures: soft, creamy, chewy, crunchy, dry, cold, wet. This step uses the sensory experience of mouth feel and chewing which is also associated with satiety. Hop around the meal, tasting one bite fully and another food. Resist the urge to eat a single food till it is gone. This step resets the pallet, enhancing how food flavors taste. Pause frequently while eating and check in with your body and observe what you are feeling. Notice if hunger, fullness, or satiety is present. Have fun as you experiment with eating this way. Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD., CDE, author, dietitian and diabetes educator. She can be reached at megrette@megrette.com

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Spring 2013

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Finding Acceptance By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC

What is acceptable in your life and what is not? Do you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what you absolutely cannot bear to have in your life, such as how much food you eat, what you eat, when you eat, how much you weigh, and how your body looks? The effort and energy it takes to push away what you don’t want is, quite simply, exhausting. How exhausting? Imagine, for a moment, a fish that is painfully hooked by a sharp lure. The more the fish fights and resists, the more exhausted and stuck he becomes. If that image makes you cringe, that’s okay! You are about to discover how acceptance can free you up and get you unhooked. First of all, anyone can get “hooked.” It happens all the time in the form of things we either desire and crave, or in those things we want to avoid. Fortunately, the attitude of openness and acceptance can help anyone loosen the hold of painful hooks, from rigid thoughts to compulsive behaviors. To begin, let’s define the word acceptance. For our purposes,

acceptance is an attitude, a way of not scratch it, we actually allow the opening to things as they really are. wound to heal.—Pema Chodron For example, if you are feeling sad or What would it be like for you to open miserable, you can accept that you are up to the raw experience of noticing feeling sad and miserable. Acceptance even the most obsessive food-related does not mean that you will dwell on thoughts or cravings? This means not reacting to them, but letting yourself Acceptance means you can notice them in a more open and spacious way—without scratching! Of watch whatever is happening in your life with course, I’m not saying this is easy. If you have ever been bitten by a an open heart and an open mosquito (and who hasn’t), then you know how difficult this can be. But mind. then, you also know what happens it and resign yourself to feeling this when you scratch and scratch and way for the rest of your life (or for the scratch. rest of the hour)! Acceptance allows Acceptance means you can watch you a kind of safe detachment that whatever is happening in your life doesn’t leave you exhausted, upset, with an open heart and an open and feeling worse. mind. Most important, acceptance is Rather than resisting, acceptance is a also self-acceptance, a way that you first step toward meaningful change can nurture yourself as you find new and reducing your suffering by just choices and healing. being present with your very human Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is a circumstances. Take a moment to look psychotherapist, award-winning writer. at the following quote: When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal. But when we instead experience the raw quality of the itch or pain of the wound and do

and author of the new book The Joy Compass. Donald consults and leads mindfulness workshops around the country. He currently serves as Vice President of TCME. His website is www.mindfulpractices.com. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Summer 2013

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating: Help to create curious kids

stomach, but not overfill it. The following is a great tip from Michelle May, MD, author of Eat By Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE What You Love, Love What You Eat.

fullness. This means guiding her to select the amount of food that will fill this hunger, not overfill or under-fill it. Mindful eating has an intent that at the end of the meal How can mindful eating help your Have your child “check in” with children eat healthier? Curiosity is hunger before the meal. Ask her to the person will feel physically better AFTER eating than before. the key. Curiosity helps kids rate her hunger. To better become interested in every aspect understand your child’s hunger Ask and cue your children to of food and eating.   and fullness, use this scale: 1 is check in with their fullness very hungry, 3 is hungry, 5 is WHILE they are eating. Remind Filling, but not overfilling, your satisfied, 7 is very full, and 10 is so them that the key is to not overfill kid’s stomach. full that she is physically sick. or under-fill their hunger.   It is hard to imagine how much Brian Wansink, PhD, author of My kids aren’t hungry at meals food a child needs. Have your Mindless Eating, offers this child make a clenched fist. This Sometimes a child’s hunger represents her actual stomach size. suggestion: doesn’t match the family schedule. At meals or snacks, help your If your child is old enough, let him Eating expert Ellyn Satter, LCSW, child set the intention to fill her serve himself. Generally, when a RD, reminds us that hunger and person self-serves, he is better able to choose an amount of food that matches his hunger. Finding comfortable fullness Help your child remember that the intent of eating is to have a comfortable level of

fullness are always changing. Ask your child why she thinks she is not hungry at meals. Explore the reason with her and brainstorm possible solutions. For example: Did you fill up on snacks before dinner?   Here is a tip from www.mindlesseating.org:

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


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Change where less nutritious foods are kept. Move them to outof-the-way areas of the kitchen. Put more nutritious choices in the open places that are easy to access. If your kids are interested in cooking and nutrition, there are some wonderful resources, including the magazine Chop Chop. You can visit the magazine online at http:// www.chopchopmag.org/

Making meals fun Is dinner a fun or stressful time? Mindful eating can reduce stress and bring enjoyment back to the meal. Mindful eating opens the door for families to experiment with what would be fun. Have you ever had a food crunch contest? Or described what a color tastes like? Ask your kids some food trivia: Where did this food come from? Maybe find the state or country where the food is grown or where the recipe is from. You can ask the table to name a nutrient that the food or meal offers. You can learn about each person’s day by playing the game “2 truths and a lie” and guess which is the lie. 2

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Food guilt: Frustration or shame?

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Curiosity helps kids become interested in every aspect of food and eating.

After your child eats, is the meal fueling his life, energizing his body or is something else happening? Explore with your child the feelings that he has about food and eating. Food and eating can be a joy for many children, but other emotions such as guilt, frustration, doubt or shame can be generated.

When your child is seeking food just after eating, or eating without being physically hungry, this may be a signal that she is using food to deal with stress or other emotions. Listen to your child without judgment as she explores these feelings. Help your child remember that eating can only solve the problem of hunger. It cannot help her make friends, pass a test or end boredom.   What should my kids eat? If you are not sure what is “healthy” food, you are not alone. Every year we are learning more about what is healthy. If you have questions about your child’s specific nutrition needs, nutrition expert and author Ellyn Satter’s website is worth exploring.

5-4-3-2-1-GO! for more information and ideas. For more information, please visit these resources: • Live Well: Omaha Kids website: http://livewellomahakids.org/ • Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, PhD: http:// www.mindlesseating.org/ • Am I Hungry? Michelle May, MD: http://amihungry.com/ • Ellyn Satter: http:// www.ellynsatter.com/how-to-feedi-24.html • Chop Chop: The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families http:// www.chopchopmag.org/ Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and a cofounder of TCME.org. She is the coauthor of two books: Discover Mindful Eating: A resource of handouts for health professionals and Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes. To learn more about Megrette, please visit her at megrette.com

If you would like to brush up on some sound nutrition for the whole family, check out Live Well: Omaha Kids, then click on TCME.ORG


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Fall 2013

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating way. The more we notice this, the more likely we are to re-center Rebecca Gladding, MD ourselves throughout the day. In this way, mindful eating can be like a reset We’ve all been there… Finish that button to help us determine how we memo, respond to email, complete want to spend the next few hours.  the work project that was due yesterday, do the laundry, wash the dishes, work out, get the kids to practice, cook dinner, change the oil in the car, buy groceries. So many things to do and not enough hours in the day. We prioritize what we think needs to get done right now, but how often do we step back and ask ourselves what we are sacrificing along the way? 

The Perils of Multitasking

When we rush through our days and don’t stop to reflect, we act on impulse. We are reactive rather than proactive. This way of living limits us, keeping us focused on short-term goals rather than long-term interests or solutions. One way we can stop this cycle is to eat mindfully. When we engage in mindful eating, everything slows down. When we stop to notice our food, what it tastes like, what it smells like, its texture and so on, we are much more likely to notice if we are amped up, stressed or running on autopilot in a rather directionless

So, what can you do? •

Make a commitment to yourself: Do not do anything else while you are eating (i.e., no multitasking).

Set aside at least 10 minutes at each meal to try to notice each bite.

As you are eating, become aware of the thoughts flying through your head – notice them, but do not indulge them or give in to them. Simply let them rise and fall without becoming ensnared by them.

At the end of your meal, set an intention for how you will spend the next few hours (until your next meal, when you will have another opportunity to reflect and re-center).

If you have a lot to do, choose one or two things you would like to do or accomplish in that time period. Do not be overambitious, do not make huge lists or attempt to do something that is unrealistic. Just choose a couple of things that are achievable and set an intention to do them with your best effort.

When the next meal comes, see what you have completed and then set a new intention (which may include resting or relaxation).

Try this for a week and see what happens. If you are able to be mindful and set intentions with each meal, you probably will not need to multitask as much and will actually accomplish more in a shorter period when you focus on only one task at a time. Rebecca Gladding MD, served on the TCME.org board and is the co-author of You Are Not Your Brain, to learn more visit:http:// www.rebeccagladdingmd.com/

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.


w w w . t c m e . o r g

Winter 2013

Food for Thought What is mindful eating? • Allowing yourself to become

• Choosing to eat food that is

• Learning to be aware of

• Acknowledging responses to

aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that

both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by

physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to

food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

are available through food

using all your senses to

begin eating and to stop

preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner

explore, savor, and taste.

eating.

wisdom.

Free Handout for Individuals from The Center for Mindful Eating

Pausing Practice: Your Natural Braking System

started to react to food because of habit or stress.

Step One: Stop whatever you’re doing By Donald Altman, M.A., LPC and just stand or sit in place. Notice your entire body, from the tips of Have you ever had difficulty pausing your toes, legs, and torso all the way when faced with temptation related up to the hands, arms, and all the to food? We’ve all had the experience way up to the head. of taking an extra helping or eating Step Two: Take three nice, calming food to soothe ourselves. What breaths. Imagine each breath coming pausing helps us do is to take a moment to step back and reflect on all in through the nostril or top of the head and then spilling down the the various possibilities before us. entire body, calming and comforting The ability to pause is like having a it. Let the fresh, pure air of each braking system in your car. Driving—or eating— without brakes can be a very scary activity! Putting on the brakes gives you time to consider better options when you might otherwise simply react or act out of habit. This is a very easy 4-Step pausing practice that grounds you in the present moment and helps you step back from unwanted reaction. You can use this before ordering food, before stepping into the mini-mart store for a quick junk food fix, or even after you’ve

breath fill all the cells of the body. You might notice how the body relaxes and responds as you do this. Allow

your hands, shoulders, and entire body to release tension. Step Three: Notice what emotion you are feeling in this moment. Are you physically hungry? Or, are you trying to use food to avoid an uncomfortable feeling—such as loneliness, anger, or frustration—that is not really caused by physical hunger? Step Four: Let your wise and nurturing self move you in a new direction. In this moment, reflect on how acting in a more thoughtful and caring way toward yourself will make you feel later in the day. Then, act accordingly by acting out of selfcare and self-concern. Finally, congratulate yourself for putting on the brakes. Each time you do this practice, you will be strengthening the brakes and making pausing your skillful response to old habits and daily stress. Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is the author of many mindful eating books. His new book is called The Joy Compass. He currently serves as Vice President of TCME. His website is www.mindfulpractices.com. Contact: info@mindfulpractices.com.

TCME is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of mindful eating. This handout can be copied and distributed for educational purposes.

Food for Thought Handout Archive 2006-2013  

The handouts in this archive are an ideal introduction to Mindful Eating. The Principles of Mindful Eating and the Food for Thought handouts...

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