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Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food

Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food - Susan Albers, Lilian Cheung Not just another diet book; more like the anti-diet book. In fact, this book would not approve of depriving yourself of the foods you love, because that can lead to binge-eating when your body and brain feel like they're not getting what they want. Instead, this book encourages you to listen to your body's cues. Enjoy your treats in smaller portions, using all five senses. Instead of cramming food into your mouth in a trance, stop to think about how it feels in your fingers, how it looks on the plate, how it smells, the sound your fork makes when you pierce it, and stop to savor the taste. That's what mindful eating is described as: existing in the moment when you are eating and being aware of your food.

This book has its roots in Buddhist teachings, mostly in the methods of observing your own reactions and thinking about yourself and how you are feeling. Dr. Albers first describes what mindfulness is, and outlines four pillars of mindfulness: mind, body, feelings, and thoughts. She then moves on to tips and exercises to help you to treat food in a more mindful manner. The tip chapters are small (bite-size, if you'll pardon a bad pun) and usually include some inspirational quotes, plausible real-life examples of behaviors she is discussing, plus one or two exercises. Exercises run the gamut from internalized mental activities to keeping a physical or digital food journal. At the end of the book are collections of tips and inspirational quotes. I felt like the book was skewed a little toward a female audience -- most of the examples involved women, and the tremendous body image issues that many women face are addressed -- but I could also see men finding some useful things here.

I found this book really eye-opening. It made me stop and think about how much and why I eat. I have a tendency to eat while doing other things and not focus on my meals. Or I will sit down in front of my computer with a bag of snacks intending to eat a handful while I play a game, then the next thing I know I will look down and find the bag empty. I often eat when I am bored, or just to have something to do. I never really had a name for my behavior before, but I am what would be categorized as a 'mindless overeater'. Just the act of naming the behavior has made me much more conscious of when I am doing it. I definitely think the techniques in the book to encourage more mindful behaviors are something I can put into everyday practice.