Do you have a rocky relationship with food and want to transform it? My interview with Dr. Susan Albers – a psychologist specializing in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness – is full of ways to become aware of our eating experiences and how to approach them more mindfully.
So, what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It’s more about how to eat vs. what to eat. It’s about learning psychological tricks and tips to eat the foods that you love, but in a more mindful way versus a mindless way. It’s about solving our mindless eating habits so that we have a better relationship with food and don’t overeat.
Susan developed a concept called ‘Eat Q’ which is a play on the traditional concept of I.Q., but as it relates to food. Having a high Eat Q score is essentially equivalent to having a healthy relationship with food and your body. It measures how well you make food decisions, specifically how much our emotions help or hinder our efforts to eat well. It can help you discover how your emotions may be sabotaging your eating decisions and what to do to fix it. It’s about tapping into the power of your emotional intelligence to eat better.
Susan is full of mindful eating strategies and here’s one she created called the 5 S’s of mindful eating:
1. Sit down: Research shows that we tend to eat about 14% more when we are distracted, so she recommends sitting and focusing on our meals.
2. Slow down: Eating with your non-dominant hand can help to slow down the process.
3. Sensing: Tune into the first bite using all of your senses because the first bite sets the tone for the meal.
4. Savor: Count to 3 before you swallow and take a ‘mindful pause.’
5. Smile: Consciously take a little smile break to slow down before taking the next bite.
It’s amazing how these 5 simple acts can be so easy to implement and have massive effects on our eating habits.
Have you ever experienced a situation where you feel pressure to eat? We address this rather common and stressful eating situation of dealing with social pressures around eating, and how to manage the ‘food pushers’ – an important scenario to know how to navigate if we want to stick to our mindful eating habits.
The ‘5 5 5 5 Exercise’ is by far my favorite of Susan’s suggestions. She guides us through a simple technique for us to apply in times we know we are about to stress eat. On a piece of paper, write down 5 ways that you relax, 5 things that can distract you, 5 people that are comforting to you, and finally 5 mantras that you can say to yourself to help you get through the moment. That way whenever you detect emotional eating coming on, you get out your list and go through it one by one. It’s a great thing to keep on hand at your desk, in your kitchen, or even in your wallet. You have 20 options on hand to do instead of eat. Research shows that if we can put a small gap in our first response or urge to eat, then if we’re not truly hungry that urge is going to pass.
Listen to the full episode by clicking on the player below. If you are one of those people who tends to be an emotional or stress eater (let’s be honest it’s part of being human) then Susan will leave you wanting to get your hands on her book ASAP and soak in all of her wisdom.
This interview originally aired during her first mindful eating summit. Her second officially launched today (Nov 2nd, 2015) so go check it out!
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