Do you know when one bite is too much?

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

People ask me what I do and I answer, “I am a mindful eating coach. Do you know what that is?”

There are typically three types of responses. The first is a puzzled look with a hint of curiosity. The second is descriptions of a stellar health food diet – organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed beef and etc. The third is descriptions of carefully planning and measuring food and then eating very s-l-o-w-l-y, sometimes chewing each bite of food 30 or more times. Imagine that!

Responses of puzzlement and curiosity I can easily work with to describe mindful eating because it denotes openness to learning what it is. The second and third answers are more difficult because they are underpinned with typical misconceptions about the concept and practice of mindful eating and what it involves.

Conceptually, mindful eating is not about always having the “perfect food du jour” or about measuring, weighing, and counting. It is not wrong to eat great food or to measure and weigh portions if it seems helpful to you, but none of that is mindful eating. Nor is mindful eating about s-l-o-w-l-y cleaning your plate or counting each chomp on a bite of food.

Mindful eating is about awareness. It is about paying attention to your mind – its thoughts, wants, desires, cravings, and feelings in relation to food. Mindful eating is also about paying attention to your body – its physical sensations, sometimes obvious (being stuffed or bone tired) and at other times subtle (nuances of taste in different coffees or feeling bored). All of this is really about learning to practice mind-body awareness. It is about learning to pay attention to your mind’s intuitive nature as it interprets your body’s genuine signals about what it needs, prefers, wants and loves.

An example of mindful eating is when a one-year-old child eats until satisfied and then refuses to eat any more, until hungry again. That child’s mind and body are naturally tuned in to an automatic sense of mind-body awareness and as a result reaches a point that even one more bite is too much. Do you know when one more bite is too much?

You can email Dr. Cullman your mindful-eating question for an upcoming column. The Fall Mindful Eating Workshop begins on September 6th at 975 Commerce Dr. in Perrysburg. Call 419-494-7699 or email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com to register or to schedule an appointment, workshop, presentation or seminar with The Mindful Eating Coach, LLC.