I really enjoyed presentation at Dietitians of Canada Conference 2014 by Dr Michelle May titled “Eat what you love, love what you eat”.  Michelle discussed the mindful eating cycle (refer to attachment below). 

Some people eat instinctively; they don’t focus or obsess about food.  They eat when they are hungry.  The classic instinctive eater is a baby.  With instinctive eating the cycle looks like the following:

Why? Cycle driven by need for fuel

When? When I’m hungry

What? Whatever I choose

How? Intentionally– eat with intention of feeling better

How much? Enough to satisfy hunger

Where?  Living my life


The overeating cycle looks quite different:

Why? Cycle is driven by triggers – stress, boredom, social, self-reward, environmental

When? External or emotional cues

What? Why we eat determines what we eat – Tempting or comfort foods

How? Mindlessly, quickly or secretly

How much?  Until food is gone or I’m uncomfortable  – When a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it

Where? Excess fuel is stored


So what does the restrictive eating cycle look like?

Why? – Cycle is driven by rules

When? – According to the rules

What? – “Good” or allowed food

How? – Rigidly – weighing, measuring, counting food

How much? – Allowed amount

Where? – Energy is spent on diet and exercise


Overeating = out of control

Restrictive eating = in control

Mindful eating = in charge


Michelle implored us not to talk about exercise and diet in the same counselling session.  She reminded us that we often present exercise as punishment, for example, by showing that if you eat 2 chocolates, you will need to cycle for 20 minutes.  Most people will give up when presented with diet and exercise in this way.

We need a paradigm shift of mindful eating.  Hence we need to respond rather than react to triggers.  Whenever you feel like eating, it’s important to pause and ask yourself am I hungry?

Michelle concluded by saying “Eating the right amount of food isn’t about being good.  It’s about feeling good.”

For more information and free downloads visit www.AmIHungry.com

Also view youtube of Michelle above.


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