When mindful eating meets Thanksgiving dinner

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

Much earlier in my life I spent much of my time either on a diet or off of a diet. When Thanksgiving rolled around I felt nervous and tense before the meal. Why? I didn’t want to overeat but I always did. In fact, I usually joined the rest of my family on the living room floor in a comatose state while sleeping through football games. This would have been acceptable to me if it weren’t the beginning of my off-again diet. My emotional baggage was screaming at me, “You blew it again.” I had broken a promise I made to myself about how I “should” eat. I would try to get back on the diet band wagon, but it never worked until after the holidays. What was my motivation to keep trying something to lose weight and hopefully keep it off? It was the physical misery of too much food.

Much of my life I had read about diets and tried many of them over and over. I memorized calorie content in food, and lost weight only to gain it all all back. I’m sure it is no surprise to you when I tell you I lost and regained the same 10 to 20 pounds many times over. My willpower was no match for the deprivation of a diet.

Years later after getting married, I serendipitously discovered mindful eating. This was my created brand because the concept of mindful eating did not yet exist in the public domain. How did I discover this? Again, it was the physical misery from too much food. After eating an evening meal, I often felt agonizingly full. It didn’t feel healthy, and although I hadn’t eaten as much as at Thanksgiving, I could intuitively sense the Thanksgiving coma on its way. Instead. I wanted to feel good, even energized, so I could do things.

One day and many futile diets later, I asked myself the serendipitous question: What would happen if I dropped the “diet” and ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was “just-right-full” (the Goldilocks method)? The rest is history. I lost weight and learned how to maintain the weight loss. Now, 40 years later, I’ve learned to explicitly trust the intuitive cues I feel in my mind and body. I can eat what my mind desires while my body, along the way, tells me when to stop. I just follow its wisdom. No, I didn’t overdose on sweets but over time learned the kinds and amounts that worked best for me. Now I sit mindfully at our Thanksgiving table and naturally choose foods I enjoy and make me feel good — even desserts if my mind-body desires.

See all of Dr. Cullman’s columns at http://www.firstlocaltoledo.com/columnists/dr-ellen-cullman. Call 419-494-7699 or email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com for information about mindful eating coaching sessions, speaking engagements and continuing education workshops.