Mindful Eating Only Works If You Know This

Over a decade ago I had a phenomenal supervisor who was also a professor.  He used to chuckle as he saw the new ultra eager wannabe therapists shuffle into class at grad school.  He’d feel a bit sorry for them and the road which lay ahead.  They were typically sweet, and this being California, somewhat alternative creatures hoping to heal the world one therapy session at a time using love, support, guidance and all things warm and fluffy.*

The irony, he explained, was that transformation typically happens in the dark places – in the hate, in the grief, in the rage, in the sadness and in the despair. He’d joke I better make sure I was well paid because those were the feelings I was going to be hanging out in.  He was right. Though I happen to be a firm believer that belly laughs belong in therapy also.

The point is that more often than not lasting change and transformation does happen in the dark and difficult places we’d rather avoid – in fact it’s our avoiding them which makes them dark and difficult.

Exactly the same is true for food and eating. If you’re wanting to lose weight or heal your relationship with food it’s no good skipping over the bits that feel messy or have “gone wrong” and naively hoping that, come Monday,  you’ll magically be able to “keep on track” and “do better”. That’s like the newbie therapists thinking warm and fuzzy affirmations are going to do the trick. They won’t.

Here’s a 5 minute video about Mindful Eating Practice and why it isn’t really about lighting candles and having pretty placemats (though I like both) and how it can transform your relationship to food.


* I don’t mean that love doesn’t heal but more that the love that heals isn’t the superficial pink and fluffy love that we call love. The real love is the stuff that probably looks more like peace or spaciousness that you can find right at the center of grief, sadness and despair.

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  1. If you don t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn t involve food, you won t be able to control your eating habits for very long. Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice, as if the only thing keeping you from eating right is knowledge. But that kind of advice only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn t work when emotions hijack the process, demanding an immediate payoff with food.

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