I had the privilege of attending the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia.
This is a national conference for nutrition professionals that can only be described as the Superbowl of Dietitian and Nutritionist Conferences!
A highlight for me was meeting Evelyn Tribole, RD and Elyse Resch, RD, the two dietitian authors of the book, Intuitive Eating. The message and science of Intuitive Eating, a non-diet approach to nutrition, has both personally and professionally transformed my life and the life of my patients for the better.
You see, Intuitive Eating helps teach you to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are comfortably full, and pay attention to the satisfaction factor of food. Intuitive Eating helps you integrate the messages of your body with your thoughts and behaviors and, ultimately, puts you in charge of your body and its health. You can read more about Intuitive Eating right here.
At its core, Intuitive Eating is an important way of learning to self-regulate our food intake by recognizing hunger and fullness cues lost to years of dieting or disordered eating. In an auditorium packed with dietitians young and old, I listened to Evelyn Tribole offer up her very own wisdom on how to teach Intuitive Eating. A poignant message I heard from Tribole was that, practicing mindfulness is an important skill in learning to becoming an intuitive eater.
The many benefits of mindfulness include: reduced anxiety, better concentration, better sleep, as well as a decrease in emotionally-driven eating. Following are some of my thoughts about practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the Opposite of Living on Autopilot
How often have you driven your car and forgotten where you were driving to? Or taken the wrong route because you weren’t paying attention to your surroundings? How often have you showered and failed to notice the warm water on your skin?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice that is very relevant for life today. Mindfulness is simple. It just means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This increases awareness, clarity, and acceptance of our present-moment reality.”
I don’t think that mindfulness is simple! I have been very inconsistent in my own practice. If you are anything like me, you tell yourself, “Okay, I must start meditating. I am so stressed out I know it will help.” You dutifully set your alarm five minutes earlier each day, sit and breathe! You do this for a week, two weeks, maybe even three. But it gets harder to get up early and you sleep through the alarm. Soon, you just stop because sleep is more important.
How can I start slowly working on mindfulness?
Meditation and mindfulness does not have to involve sitting in a cross-legged position and lighting candles. Here are five ways to start becoming more mindful:
- Try feeling the sensation of your heart beating WITHOUT measuring the actual beats per minute.
- Listen to music and try clearing your mind while you walk or do yoga.
- Showering, bathing, or washing dishes can give you the chance to feel the temperature of the water, the texture and scent of soap on your skin, the sound of the water running, and the feelings of drying your body with a towel.
- Walking. You can notice the surface under your feet, the sights, and smells of your surroundings, noticing sensations in your body and breath as you take each step and breath. If your thoughts wander, just bring them back to your breath and step.
- Focus on each part of your body, from your feet to the top of your head – many of us are so busy that we are not even aware of how we are feeling physically.
To begin a more formal practice of mindfulness, there are numerous guided meditations available online or as apps on our phones. Some of my favorites are: Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, Stop, Breathe & Think, and Buddhify.
Eat To Love by Jenna Hollenstein is a wonderful book on merging mindfulness with intuitive eating.
Here is a great discussion I had with Dr. Alexis Conasen, a psychologist who specializes in mindfulness, on the difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating.
Interested in learning more about mindfulness and how it can help with Intuitive Eating?
Take my free Intuitive Eating e-course and learn steps to implement some mindfulness into your life and let me know what your favorite resources for learning to practice mindfulness are!
Looking for help on your journey?
If you want to get additional professional help and support, along with encouragement to develop your own self-compassion, and help you on your own Intuitive Eating Journey, check out my self-paced online Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond program.
It is one of the best ways to begin to challenge diet culture and diet mentality… and you will notice a BIG change in yourself too!
Also, new is my upcoming online Intuitive Eating And Body Image Support Group for women over 40. For more information and to register your name on the wait list for this next group, visit www.ericaleon.com/intuitive-eating