Self-Care Month Guest Blogger: Kathleen Carroll and Mindful Eating

regroup-betaHello Living Self-Care Community! My name is Kathleen Carroll, and I am the community manager at Regroup Therapy – a website that safely offers video sessions for therapists. I met Stacey and Diane through Regroup, and I have absolutely loved getting to know both of these inspiring women. Thank you Diane and Stacey for inviting me to post. I am grateful to be included!

Today, I want to write about Mindful Eating, and our complicated relationships with food. At Colorado College, I led a mental health support and advocacy group for students living with mental health issues. On our campus, eating disorders were the most prevalent concern. Colorado students are typically athletic and socially minded. The line between “outdoorsy vegan” and obsessively healthy-minded is often blurry, and as an ally, I felt it an important issue to address.

GROWWhen advocating for young people with eating disorders, mindfulness becomes a central focus. You must be mindful of triggers, mindful of coming off as judgmental and most importantly mindful of your own habits and areas for improvement. Preparing an Eating Disorder Awareness Week was one of the greatest creative challenges that I have ever faced! Thankfully, my friend’s mom is a mind-body specialist, who was eager to come out and visit her daughter. Dr. Claire Wheeler has both an MD and a PhD in Psychology. Her focus is solely on mindfulness and the mind-body connection. She came all the way out to Colorado with a prepared presentation on “mindful eating,” and its implications for both everyday use and for the the treatment of eating disorders. It was perfect! Not only was mindful eating a trendy response to preventative healthcare (and college kids respond to trendy), but it also allowed us to include a large scope of people, without the isolation that comes with, “this is for you, young people with eating disorders.”

hersheykissThe exercise began with a dark chocolate Hershey’s kiss. Claire asked us to let it melt on the tongue. We closed our eyes, as she led us in an almost meditative practice. I still remember how incredible it tasted – just a little chocolate Kiss! The entire process took about five minutes. She acknowledged that it would be all but impossible to assume that we can all mindfully eat for every meal. However, mindful eating allows both healthy control over food, and also a “reclaiming” of the experience of eating. She repeatedly emphasized food as fuel, taking the ritual out of mealtimes, and becoming present while eating, as necessary in creating a healthy relationship with food.

You may have a left-over chocolate from yesterday. Try eating it mindfully:

  1. Picture the chocolate – your mouth prepares by salivating;
  2. Put the chocolate in your mouth;
  3. Allow it to melt slowly, without biting into it;
  4. Experience all of the flavors and texture as it melts onto your tongue;
  5. Enjoy!

Happy post-Valentine’s Day to you all, and thanks again for having me, Diane and Stacey!

[Thank YOU, Kathleen! What a great exercise! You can do this with any type of food. And as Kathleen mentioned above, don’t expect yourself to eat mindfully every time you eat; however, if you do use mindfulness during a meal, note how much more you enjoy it! – Namaste’ – Diane and Stacey]