Here is December’s installment of “Ask Shelby” from Chester County’s own Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Shelby Riley.
I’ve tried every diet under the sun and I still can’t seem to lose weight. Especially at the holidays! I’ve heard a lot about mindful eating. What is it, and does it really work?
We Americans have a fairly dysfunctional relationship with food. There are many reasons why: the trendy, and often conflicting, nutritional advice that cycles through our newsfeeds; the prolific amount of food sources (grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc) available to us; the amazing amount of food choices available to us (gourmet donuts, Chinese, Indian, Italian, frozen custard, you name it, we can have it); slick advertising for these foods; marketing that sells us the idea that we can be thin and still eat whatever we want (“America Runs on Dunkin” for example), just to name a few.
Mindful eating is a simple, intuitive way of approaching food, but it goes against everything we’re conditioned as busy Americans to do. The basics of mindful eating are:
- Eat when you are hungry.
- Eat foods that help your body feel good.
- Pay attention to the food you eat and savor it.
- Notice when you have eaten enough and stop eating.
- If you have the urge to eat to deal with stress, anger, pain, boredom, etc., choose to manage your feelings through other non-food means.
Intuitive eating allows you to have a healthy relationship with food, and usually results in a healthier weight and better overall health. Controlled eating (dieting via willpower) usually results in obsessive thoughts about food, binging, and eventual weight gain. We teach this to clients struggling with unhealthy relationships with their bodies and food. It takes practice, but it is does work and it’s worth the effort.
Here’s to healthy eating…especially at the holidays!
Shelby Riley, LMFT is the owner of Shelby Riley, LMFT and Associates, LLC, a group family therapy practice in Chester Springs. She is the Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (PAMFT). Remember to check out Shelby’s website www.shelbyrileymft.com for useful information about therapy for individuals, couples, and families. And check out her books on Amazon.