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Banish Compulsive Eating

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The program Dixie Evatt attended was founded at SUNY by physician Lisa Kaufmann after she began to despair of finding any conventional methods that could help her patients lose weight. Like many practitioners, she had seen too many patients try the standard dieting approaches, do okay for a while, and then gain back all the weight they’d lost.

“For most people,” says Kaufmann, “the underlying emotional and behavioral issues are not addressed by conventional diets. So eventually they start eating again and regain everything, plus another five or ten pounds.”

Kaufmann got the idea for her program several years ago when she was attending a meditation retreat and noticed that no one in the room was overweight. “I realized that as people gain awareness, they are less likely to have compulsive habits,” she says. It made her wonder whether people who wanted to lose weight would be more successful if they simply learned how to pay close attention to what they were eating.

In creating her four-year-old program, Kaufmann drew on the Buddhist techniques that inspired it, which aim to cultivate a be-here-now attentiveness to everything we do, including the act of eating. The program teaches becoming aware of many things that we do automatically–which clearly runs against the grain of current American dietary habits. Surrounded as we are by fast food, quick snacks, and accelerating time pressures, we as a nation are eating faster, eating more, and gaining weight at an unprecedented pace.

But the very thing that makes mindful eating so alien to so many Americans–that is, deliberately slowing the pace of eating–helps explain why it’s gaining adherents. “A big reason so many Americans are so fat is because we’ve lost touch with the ceremony of eating,” says Deborah Kesten, a nutritionist who teaches mindful eating and wrote The Healing Secrets of Food and Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul. Some of the growing number of other books that make mindful eating an element of weight loss include Eat More, Weigh Less, by cardiologist Dean Ornish, The Zen of Eating, Art of the Inner Meal, Eating Mindfully, and the aptly titled When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair.

Kesten has done a study comparing people who follow her program and concentrate on the pleasure of eating to those who multitask during meals. “We’ve found that people who eat mindfully–with gratitude and positive feelings–are more likely to be normal weight.” In Kaufmann’s class, students meet once a week for ten weeks. The lesson plan is pretty simple. “People can eat anything they want,” she says, “but they have to eat it with complete awareness. No television, no radio, no newspaper.” If you know you can eat all you want, she adds, you tend not to eat as much–there’s always tomorrow.

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Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

73 comments

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1:30PM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

I am sharing this info with several friends. The info in the article is great (for example, eat slowly, pay attention to what you are eating) and several of the comments are also full of information worth sharing. Thanks!

2:06AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

I will try to be mindful of what I eat as I eat

6:07PM PDT on Apr 3, 2010

Great Information! Thank you!

5:54AM PDT on Mar 25, 2010

I love cookies.Oats may also be consumed raw, and cookies with raw oats are quickly becoming popular.
m3 zero

4:07PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Not eating whilst; watching telly, reading, surfing Care2; gosh what a novel idea, I guess I could try it, thanks Beverly

10:05AM PST on Jan 27, 2010

thanks

3:51PM PST on Jan 20, 2010

Banish (I had to look that up) Compulsive (I had to look that up) eating???
Sorry, I just can't understand it...

1:04AM PST on Jan 17, 2010

really vlever and interesting, I have given up on diets and am now actually tasting my food rather than just eating it fast, I can now susvive with a piece of chocolate rather than a bar and have swapped may of the foods I love, chicken kebabs being my downfall for homemade chicken ones without the pitta bread even as I now realise what foods I like adh make me feel good. In the last year without really trying I have lost over 2 stone and when I feel myself starting to slip ito bad habits I just remind myself what makes me feel good and although still obese I fell fantastic because I eat mostly natural foods made at home now.

7:41AM PST on Jan 8, 2010

I have found that drinking plenty of water keeps me from eating impulsively. Filling your tummy with water makes you feel full and also re-hydrates you. Only drawback is you are always running to the wee-wee room.

10:39AM PST on Jan 7, 2010

Relora! Any form of stress or anxiety (even the unnoticable kinds) increases cortisol levels in the blood. This engages "emotional eating". Relora or other herbs like holy basil) reduce those unhealthy cortisol levels thereby eliminating food cravings, tension, anxiety, stress & even belly fat. Look at reviews: iHERB.com and use Coupon Code SOH355 to save $5.00 off your 1st order. I used NOW brand, but other brands are sucessfull too. Just be sure to check out customer reviews before you decide which brand. Thank me later!

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