Awareness is empowering!

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

The other day my husband came in the door flashing a gigantic chocolate chunk cookie. Do you remember the size that cookies use to be – you know, the “normal” size – the kind usually purchased three-for-a-dollar at bake sales? You could eat one or two and save one for later. Well, my husband’s gigantic chocolate chunk cookie was almost the size of four “normal” cookies!

So, here we are standing in our kitchen. My husband is holding the delectable cookie as I, The Mindful Eating Coach, pause at the sight. He does not need a cookie with a smile face painted on it because he already has a smiling face filled with anticipation of devouring the preciously held cookie.

What is The Mindful Eating Coach to do? I don’t want to become a pest. Instead, I asked him a question my clients consider in their first mindful eating session. Okay, if you live with The Mindful Eating Coach, it is a pest-question. Here is the gist of our conversation:

Pest: Are you hungry?

Husband: No answer, but he stopped to consider his answer.

Pest: Don’t lie! (I know he was thinking of saying he was hungry.)

Husband: Okay! I am not hungry!

Pest: Great, enjoy your cookie!

What happened next with my “not-hungry-cookie-in-hands” husband?

Well, he sat down on the couch, relaxed, and began to eat the gigantic cookie. A few minutes later he returned to the kitchen with only a third of the cookie eaten and said, “I don’t need the entire cookie right now, so I’ll save it for later.” I asked him why he only ate a third of the cookie. He said, “You jarred my autopilot into manual control. I can always eat more when I am hungry.”

The three words, “Am I hungry?” is a simple yet a powerful question to ask yourself before eating anything, says Michele May, M.D. and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Your answer is not to dictate whether you should or shouldn’t eat. Instead, allow it to gently guide you to be aware of the choices you make while eating and learn from them.

This is the beginning of mindful eating. Just ask yourself the simple question, “Am I hungry?” and then eat whatever you want with this awareness. You will be empowered!

Dr. Cullman welcomes your questions for an upcoming column. The Winter Mindful Eating Workshop begins January 24th and meets at 975 Commerce Dr. in Perrysburg. Call 419-494-7699 or email for information about individual sessions, workshops, presentations, seminars and personalized retreats.