The Mindful Eating Revolution: Are You Ready?

Last week I was leading a retreat in Brazil for Eat for Life Teachers-In-Training and members of the Centro Brasileiro de Mindful Eating. We carefully went through the orientation and ten-week program to talk about important concepts and review the challenges that can arise when people take the class. At the end when everyone was going around to talk about their major takeaways, one doctor who was attending said “This is the start of a Mindful Eating Revolution!” #mindfuleatingrevolution

It is not a stretch to call it a revolution. The Eat for Life class is not just about eating a particular way, namely with more attention and curiosity. It is a multi-faceted approach which can create a major shift in your approach to food, your body, and to your entire life. Revolution means “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something” and mindful eating, at least the way I teach it, is just that! In teaching mindful eating for over a decade I have heard people say the most amazing things. Here are some examples:

“I don’t like anything I eat, I just hadn’t noticed before.”

“I never knew I could love my body in this way, with all of its wrinkles and scars!”           

 “I enjoy moving my body more than I ever knew possible.”

“I think so much more about where my food comes from and what effect it has on me and the world around me.”

“I see how damaging dieting has been on my health.”

“I give myself permission to eat what I want without guilt.”

 “I’ve learned how to satisfy my body, mind, and spirit.”

Changing the way that we think about one of the most profound acts of care we take each day—eating—and visualizing ourselves, including our bodies, with compassion and acceptance is revolutionary. And, we need a revolution in order to combat deeply held conditioning from advertising, industry, healthcare, and Hollywood. Here is a short list to consider.

1. Diet Industry: The diet industry and professionals who promote weight loss diets are creating more problems than they are solving. Diets set you up to fail at the one thing you are trying to do, which is lose weight. Diets slow down your metabolism, they create a desire for more food, and they take the focus outward instead of on the signals from your body. And, weight is not even the problem. Answer: Give up dieting and pay attention to signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction instead!

2. Diet Culture: The diet culture is designed to make you feel bad about yourself, no matter what size you are. You cannot win in an environment whose purpose is to make you into someone you cannot be. The mindset that sees some ideal as the key to happiness will never find the happiness it seeks. Answer: Stop body bashing and love yourself just as you are! By the way, good friends don’t let you say disparaging things about your body either. You will learn how to be your best self by engaging in self-kindness and compassion.

3. Healthcare: The healthcare system is focused on weight or BMI, a measurement that was developed in the early 19th century by a Belgian mathematician, not a physician!  BMI is physiologically problematic and doesn’t portray people’s health. Continuing to use weight or BMI to categorize people into shaming categories is doing nothing for the good of their health, but a convenience for doctors to get paid. Answer: Focus on activities that promote wellbeing. Research indicates that behaviors are the key to better physical and emotional health, not a number on a scale.

4. Hollywood: Okay, I love movies as much as the next person. Maybe more. But, I’m calling this item “Hollywood” because it has done as much or more to our collective psyche than anything else. The imagined characters that we see on the screen which popularize a certain way of looking and demonize another have had a tremendous and often unconscious effect on us. This conditioning happens regarding race, gender, size, age, culture, and much more.  Answer: Look at life as it is, not as it is portrayed in a story. Educate yourself about people in real life–respecting yourself and one another.

If you’d like to join me in the mindful eating revolution but still need some help to understand what steps to take, join me in my next ten week Eat for Life program starting in September. All of the information is right here. If you’re already on the path, congratulations! It’s the revolution to save our bodies, our hearts, and our lives!