Mindful eating for families

October 27, 2008 9:57:00 AM PDT
This week, almost 10,000 food, health and nutrition experts are in Chicago to attend the American Dietetic Conference. One of the hot topics being discussed is Mindful Eating and that's the specialty of Megrette Fletcher, a registered dietician and Executive Director of the Center for Mindful Eating. Mindful eating has the powerful potential to transform people's relationship to food and eating, to improve overall health, body image, relationships and self-esteem. Megrette says. Mindful eating involves components such as:
  • learning to make choices in beginning or ending a meal based on awareness of hunger and satiety cues
  • learning to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, or certain foods
  • valuing quality over quantity of what you're eating
  • appreciating the sensual, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food
  • feeling deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food

Mindfulness helps focus our attention and awareness on the present moment, which in turn, helps us disengage from habitual, unsatisfying and unskillful habits and behaviors, Megrette adds. "Engaging in mindful eating meditation practices on a regular basis can help us discover a far more satisfying relationship to food and eating than we ever imagined or experienced before. A different kind of nourishment often emerges, the kind that offers satisfaction on a very deep emotional level."

Over the past 25 years, mindfulness practices, in general, have been shown to have a positive impact on many areas of psychological and physical health, including stress, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and heart disease. More recently, evidence is building that validates the benefits of mindful eating for treatment of the obesity as well as binge eating disorders. The benefits of mindful eating are not restricted to physical and emotional health improvements; they can also impact one's entire life, through a better sense of balance and well-being.

Megrette's Five Tips for Families

Try to 'arrive' at a meal -- which means create an intentional transition from your previous activity to eating.

  • Tip: Eat in specific places (as in at the table vs. standing up or watching TV).

Before you take a bite -- check in. Ask yourself "Am I hungry?" According to a new survey by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition - more than a quarter of us eat without ever really feeling hungry.

Try to notice things (physical aspects) about the food you are eating: color, smell, texture or amount.

  • Tip: At each meal, try to have 3 different colors and 3 different textures.

Try to become curious about the food that you are eating.

  • Ask lots of questions about the food that you are eating. For example -- Who cooked it, who grew it, where did it come from, what nutrition does it have, will eating this food benefit me?

When eating, relax and savor. Slow down, pause between bites, and let your fork rest while you chew.

  • Tip: Try to taste your food -- SAVOR. Notice again the changing flavors and how your hunger changes as you eat.

For more information, visit the website of the Center for Mindful Eating: www.tcme.org.

About Megrette Fletcher

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietician (RD), certified diabetes educator (CDE), author and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating, TCME.org. Currently Megrette works as a diabetes educator for Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, NH and is the executive director of TCME. Megrette has been lecturing on counseling, diabetes, eating disorders, and mindful eating since 1994. Her interest in mindful eating began a decade ago and in 2005 she co-authored Discover Mindful Eating with Fredrick Burgraff. During the writing of this book, Megrette envisioned the creation of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, non-religious organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating.


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