Category Archives: BASICS of Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating during the Holidays!

Here’s a great Huffington Post blog piece by Michelle May, M.D. called A Recipe for Overeating that I thought was excellent.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is perfect for the holidays when it seems like we are surrounded by food.

After that, if you want to laugh along with me and Paul Pepper, watch the video of my recent KBIA interview.  I talk about the healthy benefits of relaxing and breathing before you eat.  While Paul managed to get me to agree with him when he said “if you’re relaxed you can eat more without gaining weight,” I’m not sure that’s true. However, I do know that if you eat when you’re relaxed, you will metabolize your food more easily and, if you’re stressed, you will store more fat.     Breathe! Relax! Then eat!

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Breathe, Belly Check, and Smile!

We are on the countdown to the beginning of the holiday season—Thanksgiving is upon us!!!  We will soon be faced with tables of food—things like turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, potatoes and gravy, the obligatory green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cheesecake (my favorite!!) and many more.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.  Oh the joy of Thanksgiving!

Of course, then there is that sinking feeling about the holidays approaching.  You know the ones.  The thoughts of days packed with even more events and activities than normal, the family gatherings with family you’re not that crazy about, the demands to be at parties and participate in things we might not be so happy about, (or conversely) NOT having invitations to be at parties or have family to gather with, spending too much money, and eating and drinking too much because food is EVERYWHERE.    

What’s a girl (or guy) to do? Continue reading

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Eat for Life – 10 week program to help you savor your food and respect your body – Register Now!

I’m happy to announce that registration is open for my successful non-diet weight management approach to eating for health and enjoyment.  This ten week class starts in September so you need to register soon.  If you live in Columbia or Kansas City, you might enjoy taking the in-person class being held on the University of Missouri campus.  Otherwise, you can take the Eat for Life class from the comfort of your own home, coffee shop, or office—wherever you have a computer.  The online version of the class uses the same materials as the in-person class and includes video and audio recordings to help you understand and practice the philosophy of mindful and intuitive eating.  Go to the “classes” link above to listen to the informational and testimonial videos and read more about the class.  For more information and to enroll, please contact me, Dr. Rossy, at RossyL@umsystem.edu

 

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The Basics of Mindful Eating (Interview With Dr. Rossy)

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed about mindful eating and thought you might enjoy reading the article at Slimkicker. Learn how I discovered mindful eating, how you do it, how you benefit from it, how to socialize and eat mindfully at the same time, how to incorporate mindfulness into your workday and more.

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Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the moment last…

 So I couldn’t help thinking about the Simon and Garfunkel song when I read about the latest research coming out in the Journal of Consumer Research.  The research demonstrates the need to “slow down” if you want to get more pleasure out of your life, particularly during activities such as eating. 

As you know, we are all in such a big hurry these days. In fact, I would say the tyranny of busyness effects most people and never in a positive manner. People say to me all the time that they are so busy rushing from one activity to the next they either don’t have time to eat or they eat on the run, in the car, at their computer working, or during some other activity.   This way of eating strips all of the pleasure from it. By the way, it strips the pleasure out of most other things as well.

In the study by Jeff Golak, Justin Kruger, and George Loewenstein, test subjects picked the time they would wait in between eating six Hershey’s Kisses (from 10 seconds to 200 seconds) or the time was assigned to them of 200 seconds in between Kisses.

When given a choice, people spent 93 seconds in between each Kiss, which was more than twice as fast as the assigned group.  The people who ate the candies more quickly said that their pleasure dropped steeply from the first Kiss to the last. For the more leisurely group, enjoyment dropped only slightly.

Take home message:  The first bite is always the best (if you’re present for it) and the rest can be really good too if you slow down to enjoy it.  Do it slow!  And enjoy!

Note: I am aware the lyrics of the song by Simon and Garfunkel are “Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last” but moment worked better for the story.  Forgive me, Simon and Garfunkel.

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Sustainable Eating: Better for your Health, your Environment, and your World

I’ve mentioned the benefits of local eating in previous posts, such as by gardening and by frequenting the Farmer’s Market. Now I want to explain how seasonal eating relates to this idea, and why we should consider the sustainable alternative to the industrial food industry.

Eating sustainably includes eating locally because it’s a great way to support individual communities.  It connects communities to the source of their food, provides local farmers with financial support, and eliminates the need to truck in food from all over the country, or even from all over the world! This is where seasonal eating comes into play. Continue reading

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The “Eater’s Agreement” by Marc David

If you’ve needed an affirmation about eating, here it is.  The Eater’s Agreement (from the book, Nourshing Wisdom) goes like this:

“I recognize that at its deepest level, eating is an affirmative of life.  Each time I eat I agree somewhere to continue life on earth.  I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence as a human being.”

Try saying  that at McDonald’s and keeping a straight face.  Ha!

Seriously, though, I am inspired by the wisdom of this quote and think that it is important to remember that feeding ourselves is an act of love and commitment to ourselves as human beings.  While we might not always be as loving as we’d like to be, it’s always helpful to remember that what we eat is who we are at a very fundamental level.  What are you choosing to be today?

I recommend both of Marc David’s books, Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet.

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New Year’s Resolution — I will NOT diet!

Yes, that’s right.  I would suggest that you make a New Year’s Resolution NOT to diet ever again.  Diets don’t work because they don’t help you develop a way of eating that is sustainable and enjoyable.  The diet might work to help you lose weight while you’re doing it (although frankly I never was able to stay on one more than a day or two).  Then, when you stop the diet, you go back to eating the way you did to begin with and you gain the weight back.  Right?  Be honest with yourself.  If you are contemplating dieting at all on the cusp of this New Year, ask yourself if it ever really worked before.  If it had, you wouldn’t be contemplating doing another one because you would have already reached your weight goal. 

To read an interview by the authors of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook go to the following website.   They also suggest that self-care is best accomplished by honoring your internal cues for physical hunger, moving the body, meditating, getting good rest, and NOT dieting!  These are all suggestions that I applaud with vigor.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jean-fain-licsw-msw/new-years-resolution_b_1167354.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

If you want another New Year’s Resolution, how about deciding not to weigh yourself anymore?  I have rarely weighed myself since 2008 when I moved houses and threw out the scale.  Sometimes I’ll let the nurse weigh me on a visit to the doctor, but not always.  And, I never want to know the number.  Now this might sound a bit neurotic, but I’m much happier not knowing the number.  I was NEVER happy with the number, so what’s the point.  If I want to be unhappy, get on the scale.  If I want to be happy, don’t get on the scale. 

As the New Year approaches, I believe that we should all engage more in the activities that bring us joy and happiness and a feeling of “yes” inside and engage less in the activities that drain us, create a sense of burden, and make us unhappy.   My plan is to go on a weekend retreat over the New Year holiday and journal about those things.  Perhaps you might give it a little thought as well.  2012 can be a year in which you create the life you want to live instead of letting it live you.

Happy New Year!!!

NOTE:  If your doctor has prescribed a particular diet for you, this is different than “dieting.”  You should always work in conjunction with the recommendations of your primary care physician.

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Take the “craving” challenge!!

This is an addendum to an earlier post I wrote entitled “Riding the Urge.”  In the post I described Alan Marlatt’s metaphor of “urge surfing” as a way of staying present with the intensity of craving without needing to act on it.  He actually suggested that you picture the urge as an ocean wave and imagine yourself surfing, using the breath as a surfboard to ride the wave.  You can breath deeply as you feel the urge rising and falling, like a wave.  Imagine yourself riding the wave of the urge through its peak and its decline.  

I suggested that you pay attention to the cravings and urges you have for food as well as the urges and cravings you have for other things–shopping, gossiping,  arguing, drinking, watching TV, etc.  If you can pay attention to how you are being pulled into various activities or behaviors before you act on them, you have greater choices in life. 

This week in the Eat for Life class we were talking about how to cope with our emotions without using food.  Because, let’s face it, one of the reason why we have “urges” and “cravings” for some guilty pleasure or “fix” is often because we are trying to suppress or avoid an unpleasant emotion or situation.

 So, here’s the challenge!! (and it is the one I gave my class).   At least once this week, determine with all your might, that you will not give into at least one craving (whether it is for food, shopping, or whatever).    Determine ahead of time (like now) what regular craving you have that you will not give in to –at least once.  When that craving arises, check the time then go ahead and re-engage in whatever you were doing.  In the background, notice when the craving ends and how long did it take?  Maybe the craving ends and maybe it doesn’t.  It is all useful information.  Sometimes cravings pass and sometimes they are still there but you notice that you don’t have to act on them.   Both of these experiences are quite helpful to know for yourself. 

I’ll give you an example.  I don’t usually have what I call “cravings” for food anymore.  When I want food, I eat it and I eat it from a calm and centered place so that I don’t “act out” around food and it is not a problem.  However, I do have “urges” and “cravings” around shopping.  I am particularly attracted to sales (never want to pass up a bargain) and boots (there are two pairs in particular that I am currently lusting after).   I say this to point out that we ALL have cravings and food is just one particular area that we can get caught.  

I think we are not very skilled in this culture to take care of our emotional needs.  We have been so used to using food (or shopping) that it is what we naturally turn to.  Take some time this week to find more healthy, skillful ways of nurturing yourself.  Examples that quickly come to mind include taking a walk, calling a friend, reading a book or interesting magazine, playing or listening to music, meditating, doing yoga, coloring or painting, cooking for fun, getting a pedicure or massage.  In addition, give yourself some time to fully allow your feelings, particularly if they are difficult.  Imagine holding them like you would hold a small child.  Bring compassion to yourself and the challenges that you face from day to day.  By befriending yourself through nourishing activities and with time to experience your emotions you might find the “urges” and “cravings” to fix with food come less often.

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BEWARE: Mindfulness may change the way you eat forever!!

I had a funny moment this week when a volunteer who has worked with me for about a year now said that this (mindful eating) stuff had finally had an effect.   She told the story of how she had gone to the Student Center to buy a piece of pizza and how she was really looking forward to eating it.  She went back to office and sat down with the pizza.  Instead of the familiar pizza she was used to eating, she tasted the cold, congealed taste of grease.   She took two bites and threw the rest away.  She was a little startled that one of her previously favorite foods had now become inedible.   She looked around for something else to eat but, working on a college campus, good food can be hard to find quickly.  She has determined that she will need to bring her own food in to eat and we discussed various foods that would be easily to pack with her for the day.  She said that I had also ruined eating at fast food restaurants for her.  A high point in my day!

This is what happens when you really pay attention to what you eat and how it affects you.  It might not happen overnight, but if you practice being really present, it definitely changes the experience.  When I first started meditating regularly, the first thing that I noticed was I stopped drinking soda.  I was a 3 to 4 can of Diet Coke drinker at the time and I stopped cold turkey.  I was so aware of the chemical taste all of a sudden that it was no longer appealing.  I had already stopped eating fried food because of how it made me feel.  And, soon, I was noticing the effect of really fatty, buttery, sugary foods on my body.  It isn’t like I gave up on dessert, but I have become much pickier about what kind I want to eat.   

Mindfulness about the food you eat also includes paying attention to the quality of the food that you eat because of the harmful effects it could have on you and the environment.    I have a friend who is currently studying “food law” and is horrified at some of the information she is being exposed to.  She said “Honestly, if I didn’t love food so much I think I would just quit eating, given some of what I have been learning about our foods and food system. It’s not bad enough that we really don’t know what’s in a lot of food (GMO, antibiotics, hormones, etc.) Just this week, I have learned about the “defect levels” below which the government will not take any action (not that they really do so at higher levels either). The “defects” had to do with the amount of mold, dirt, stones, etc., and the number of flies, rodent parts, etc. that can be in our (canned or packaged) foods.”

Being mindful about eating includes paying attention to all aspects of the eating experience.  The more I read, the hard it does get to want to eat anything that I don’t know where it came from and how it was produced.  And then, I think, I can’t make myself completely crazy here.  I have to balance, like you do, everything in my life and eating is just one of them.  But it is an important one.  Your life really depends on it so it’s best not to stay too unconscious about how you eat.

Staying present is the key.   In my classes I always teach a raisin exercise in which I ask people to taste a raisin as if for the first time.  It is always fascinating that people report that they don’t think they have really ever tasted a raisin before, even though they have been eating them all their lives.  What are you not noticing?  How about bringing your full attention to eating the food that you know isn’t that good for you, but you think you really can’t live without?  You might still want it.  But, you might not and be better off for it. 

Meditating a little bit each day can put you in touch with the everyday things of your life–helping you to pay attention and make choices that support your health, your happiness, and your overall well-being.  Try one of the meditations on our website at http://www.umsystem.edu/curators/wellness/wellness_video.

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