mindfulness practice

Healthy at Every Size, Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating: What’s the difference? Our Yale St. Therapy expert Cori Rosenthal explains 3 useful non diet approaches.

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Ashley, Shira and I, (the Yale Street Trio) were talking about the differences between Healthy at Every Size or HAESⓇ Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. For Ashley and Shira these concepts are relatively new.   Having spent decades hating my body and wishing it were different, this is a topic that I am extremely passionate about.

I began dieting in the 7th grade, but no matter how hard I tried I ALWAYS regained the weight and usually gained a bit extra.  I finally decided I couldn’t do the diet thing anymore. It was destroying my health and my self-esteem. My non diet journey began with Mindful Eating and skeptically moved toward the principles of Intuitive Eating.   When I discovered Healthy at Every Size it was the final piece to the puzzle I had struggled with since childhood. Our culture is consumed by the number on the scale but consistent healthy behavior is likely a better measure of health than the morning weigh in.  

I know all of these concepts can become confused with one another and are not quiet in the mainstream culture, so I’m providing a simple explanation of each here.

What is Healthy at Every Size?

Healthy at Every Size or HAESⓇ began as a book by Linda Bacon.  Since that book it has grown to a movement that encompasses dieticians, therapists, physicians, and activists.  The Association for Size Diversity and Health or ASDAH is a nonprofit committed to the principles of HAESⓇ.   The ASDAH website lists the following principles:

  1. Weight inclusivity.  Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.

  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.

  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is an awareness practice that relates to food, hunger, the emotions, thoughts, and body sensations associated with eating.  Mindful eaters use all of their senses to eat foods that are nourishing and satisfying, noticing, their likes, and dislikes without judgement.  Mindful eating is a practice that can encompass meal planning, meal preparation, eating and clean up. These practices can help you tune into your bodies natural hunger and satiety cues and help you be present when you eat.  Mindful eating is a practice that can support a healthy relationship between food and your body.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is a book, workbook and program created by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole.  Mindful eating is a component of intuitive eating. The foundation of the program are the following ten principles:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality.  95% of people who diet regain their weight within 5 years and 66% of those people end up weighing then they did when they started the diet.  The cost of losing and gaining weight repeatedly is a greater risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease and a loss of self-esteem with increases in anxiety and depression.

  2. Honor your Hunger.  Eating when you are hungry is essential to avoid triggering your bodies  natural reaction to overeat.

  3. Make Peace with Food.  Stop depriving yourself of foods you label as “bad” because food labeling and feeling deprived is usually a set up for overeating those foods and then feeling guilty.  There is another way.

  4. Challenge the Food Police.  The food police are all the food rules you learned from family or the culture than now run as a tape in your head.

  5. Respect your Fullness

  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor.  When you eat what you want in a pleasing environment, the pleasure you derive can support you to feel satisfied and contented.

  7. Honor your feelings without using food.

  8. Respect Your Body.  Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and unfortunately we are not all predisposed to be a size 2, 4 or even 6.  Respecting and accepting that fact can help you to feel better about yourself.

  9. Exercise to feel good.  When we exercise only to lose weight we are likely to become motivated or unmotivated by a number o the scale.   Exercising to feel good is ultimately more sustainable.

  10. Honor your health or what is called gentle nutrition. You can honor both your taste buds and your health, knowing that for most of us one meal will not determine our overall health.  The goal is progress, not perfection.

Mindful eating, intuitive eating and Healthy at Every Size all provide an opportunity to leave behind dieting and the diet culture to create a healthier relationship between food, your body and the world around you.  All three of these practices / philosophies are complementary and work together toward a healthier relationship, not only with your own body but all bodies. For more information check out the books I mentioned above and come back to our Yale Street Therapy blog.

When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough: How to Make Amends

by Ashley Graber, LMFT, Meditation & Mindfulness Educator, Curriculum Director @ Evenflow

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We all make mistakes and often they involve hurting another person. This is part of life – from the time we are born until they day we die, making mistakes will be a part of our life, so what do we do if we hurt someone’s feelings? There’s no shame in making genuine mistakes or admitting our wrong doings, but what if the person you are trying to “make it right” with won’t let you? What if they flat out refuse to forgive you?

There’s a big difference in saying you are sorry and making amends. Saying you are sorry means that you are apologizing for what you did, but an apology alone can leave the person offended without trust that it won’t happen again. You will both feel a little bit better, but it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a deep cut and waiting for it to heal. Making amends, on the other hand, means you are amending your behavior. It means that you are not only saying you are sorry, but you are saying you are going to act differently moving forward. You are taking the steps to correct a situation.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we learn that we aren’t always going to get the opportunity to make direct amends to the people we hurt. This could be because the person is no longer alive or because the person will not accept your amends or see you at all. This will often leave the offender feeling lost and unsure of what to do to “clean up their side of the street.” So what can you do if the person you hurt won’t take your apology or allow you to make amends?

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear of your responsibility in a situation and what’s not your responsibility. You can get clear on this by writing and talking it through with a friend, therapist or if you are in 12 step, a sponsor.

Second, think of a way to make “indirect” amends. This could be giving money to a charity if you took money from a person or volunteering for a charity you know the person holds near and dear. You could also make a “living amends” by treating the people in your life in the way you wish you could have treated that person. Make the promise to yourself that you have made a genuine lifestyle change by putting a steak in the ground to end a destructive pattern you held up to that point.

Lastly, you can bring in mindfulness practice by forgiving yourself for the wrongs you’ve done and working toward acceptance of the situation. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to see our humanity. Shin Zinn said it best when he said, “Pain X Resistance = Suffering.” Pain is inevitable, whether we cause it or not, but when we resist it, we increase our suffering. When we accept it, our suffering is relieved. Acceptance doesn’t have to mean you have closure around the situation, it simply means that you are trying to allow the situation to be as it is.

Using these practices can can help us learn from the very situations that are put in our path to teach us.