Find Your Inner Gourmet

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“I cannot remember a year when I haven’t been on a diet. I lose weight quickly and feel good about myself and then as my weight loss slows to a trickle, I get bored and frustrated. I cannot have my favourite foods, which I eat anyway if I am upset, then the guilt and shame follows. I think to myself, what’s the point!”

Why is Mindful Eating Different?

Mindful Eating takes a different approach from traditional restrictive diets

It looks at the why of eating, not the what… have you ever surrendered control of what you eat to follow a strict diet plan? In doing so, you move further away from what your body is telling you and often gloss over the real causes behind your cravings. Mindful eating turns this on its head. You decide when and what you eat, while together we explore the why of eating, putting some tools in place to help us cope with what we may find.

It doesn’t focus on external cues such as weekly weighing or counting calories

Instead, it retunes us to the internal signals we once had as a child: hunger, taste and body satiety, and levels of fullness. When cravings appear we step back and consider, ‘what would be best for me right now?’, perhaps indulging in your favourite food in a controlled manner, or finding other ways to meet the emotional needs arising.

It’s easy to forget that our body has internal cues ...

… to tell us when we are hungry and when we are not, because we stopped listening to them a long time ago: our parents telling us that we must finish the food on our plate as there are starving children in the world; the ever-increasing portion sizes in restaurants or from takeaways… maybe it is ‘cake Friday’ at work… there always seems to be an expectation to eat more.

Mindful Eating doesn't require you to be perfect all the time

Research shows that those who have undertaken a mindful eating course are less likely to binge eat and when they do these episodes are less frequent and smaller. Building compassion throughout the course means when we are derailed, we see it for what it is. We bring a kindness to ourselves and start afresh. After all, we are all human!

Sarah Romotsky, from Healthcare Partnerships at Headspace, explains what mindful eating is and how it can improve your relationship with food.

 

 

Frequently asked questions about Mindful Eating

There are many myths circulating that Mindfulness is all about ‘clearing you mind’, another way to relax or to connect with an ‘inner peace’, that it is Buddhist religion or is a type of Yoga. None of these are true. 

Mindfulness has many applications and qualities. It is secular,  prescribed on the NHS, taught in schools, used in the armed forces and in leading businesses like Google and Nationwide. 

Mindful Eating is just one of the many applications of this universal tool that is Mindfulness. It is used to access change to bring about better well-being.

 

Calories are still calories, aren’t they? What difference does it make if I eat them slowly?

A common misconception is that mindful eating is simply eating slowly. Although doing this will help everyone connect with the tastes and textures of food and drink, this is only one of a dozen or so ways that we learn to tune into our eating experience. We spend approximately two thirds of the course exploring our eating patterns and broader behaviours which are often the real reason we consume more calories than our bodies need.

How can a diet where I can eat what I want help me lose weight? I just don’t get it.

Traditional restrictive diets are dominated by input: how many calories are being consumed, often a finite amount for each meal, each day. Mindfulness takes a budgeting approach. If you went shopping for clothes, you would know your budget, how much you have to spend. If you spent more on one item, you would cut back a little on others. Similarly, there are no proscribed calorie counts for meals or red lines around certain foods. We use many tools to help us stay within our chosen budgets.

I am generally good at dieting it is just social occasions that trip me up. Can mindful eating help me with this?

Lots of aspects of life can temporarily disconnect us from our eating experience and socialising is one of the most powerful. We explore practices that help us before, during and after social events. We learn how to take part fully, in a way that is authentic to our personalities and keeps us within our intentions for healthier lifestyles.

I really can’t see myself meditating and somebody told me mindfulness is Buddhist?

Mindfulness research is grounded in neuroscience and has many theoretical overlaps with Buddhist Psychology. To be as widely adopted in institutions such as the NHS, Schools, and Armed Forces, modern day mindfulness is secular. I couldn’t see myself meditating and it did put me off starting my first mindfulness course back in 2012. I soon realised it just meant allowing things to become still and to be settled as best I could. Some people refer to meditation as practice, if that helps!

 

I eat poorly, because I am so busy with working and looking after the kids. I just don’t have time to take on anything else.

Our mental and physical welfare can often get marginalised when we have others to look after and other priorities in our lives, such as work. Mindfulness adopts the oxygen mask principle from airplanes; we need to put on our own masks first in order to help others. This is often counter-intuitive to the way we have been brought up – putting others first. Challenging these deep-rooted habits takes courage and commitment, but if you are not prepared to start this process of change, then nobody else is going to do it for you.

My Approach

You are the only one who really knows what your life is like: what brings you joy or frustration or despair. We know that other like-minded people will also have their own hopes and fears, their own moments of joy and frustration, just like you. These may be like yours, but won’t be the same because you are unique.

I am not here to tell you what to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat. I don’t know you, your lifestyle, the challenges you face on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I cannot connect with your physical feelings of hunger, your cravings or the emotional triggers behind them.

What I can expose you to, is a series of tools that will enable you to begin patiently and persistently to reconnect with your direct experience of eating as well as the emotions, triggers and causes behind them. This moving towards what is difficult in life is the opposite of traditional restrictive diets, which take away control and distance you further from the root causes of your suffering.

This is not easy work. It will require courage to face what is most difficult in your life and a commitment to start this process of change. I will be alongside you every step of the way, in many ways like a guide helping you read your map. We will share the support of the group, journeying together, knowing our routes and destinations will be unique to each of us.

How It Works

Arrange a free 1 to 1

An opportunity for you to ask questions and find out more about how this course may or may not be able to support you. This is an open and candid discussion.

Exploring a Starting Point Together

Discuss your concerns around eating, weight or body image to help allow us to tailor the course to your needs, and to ensure you have the right support in place.

Setting an Intention

We can explore where you are now, what is your intended direction of travel and how the journey will look. This contrasts with goal-oriented diets, which are solely focused on outcome.

 Discover Your Inner Gourmet – Mindful Eating

The 12-session programme costs £295 including resources*. The Spring Course of 2022 is a ‘Graduation Course’, which simply means it is being taught for the first time. Accordingly, it will run at approx. 50% of the normal cost.

*At various points in the course, you may be asked to bring food for tasting practices. This could range from small nibbles such as your favourite chocolate or biscuit through to an ‘American Supper’ where we all bring a dish to share. Allergies will be discussed during 1 to 1 orientation meetings.

More Details

Finding Your Inner Gourmet – Mindful Eating

  • 12 Weeks
  • 120 mins sessions
  • 20 mins daily home practice
  • £295 (including most course materials) – £145 for the Spring 2022 Graduation Course

What happens on a Mindful Eating Course?

Through a variety of exercises, some eating based, others more meditative, we begin to re-connect with ways to regain control over what and how we eat. We identify what triggers our cravings, whether these are one-off events or linked to our daily roles and routines, and we begin to explore alternatives. This can be difficult work as our most ingrained self-beliefs and habits often have very deep roots; this is where our most valuable and our most challenging work lies.

The 2-hour weekly group sessions include multiple tasting exercises where we track a range of signals in our body. Daily home practice strengthens our connections with these signals, leading to a sense of ‘what would be best for me in this moment?’ Coupled with a deeper and more compassionate understanding of what triggers us to overeat, this leads to a flourishing of ‘inner wisdom’.

We also explore together ‘outer wisdom’. This will include discussions around portion sizes, nutritional and energy content of food as well as an exploration of how to skillfully work with what foods are available to us. Activity levels are investigated from a health perspective and other sources of nourishment, beyond food, are trialed.

Throughout this entire process, your individuality is recognised and respected. You are the expert in your own life, you are the only one who really knows what it is like. We only share in the group what we are comfortable with and this stays within the group; safe boundaries are established and honoured. The presence of the group provides both insight and support but does not spill over into advice giving or judgement.

Week 1 – What is Inner and Outer Wisdom?

Week 2 – Keep in Balance

Week 3 – Hunger Awareness and Emotional Eating

Week 4 – Becoming a Mindful Gourmet

Week 5 – Mindful Choices

Week 6 – Nutrition and Energy Balance

Week 7 – Mindful Eating in Social Situations

Week 8 – Working with Cravings

Week 9 – Stress Reactivity and Eating

Week 10 – Moving Forward Sustainably

Week 11 – Cultivating Self Acceptance

Week 12 – Cultivating Inner Wisdom

 

 

Societies and Organisations Taster Session

It can always be fun and interesting to find out more about something that most of your group know little about. In a 60-90 minute session we can explore what Mindfulness is together and if individuals or the group want to engage further, this can be discussed too.

More Details

Every society and organisation is different, so please get in touch and we can plan what is the next best step to meet your needs together.

I would be lovely to talk to see if mindfulness can support you...