How to think yourself thin: Phoenix doc talks to Dr. Oz about 'mindful eating'

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 28 at 10:00 AM

PHOENIX – A Phoenix doctor is making her debut on “The Dr. Oz Show,” explaining how you can think yourself thin.

Dr. Michelle May, a proponent of what's known as “mindful eating" or "intuitive eating,” is the author of “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.”

According to May, who calls herself a “recovered yo-yo dieter,” learning why you eat is the first step in learning how to eat. Changing the way you think about and approach food can help you break destructive cycles and stop sabotaging your weight-loss endeavors.

You first need to ask yourself two questions. "Am I hungry?" and "If I'm not eating to satisfy hunger, then why am I eating?"

May believes the keys are to stop depriving yourself, stop giving in to temptation, and stop feeling guilty. She calls it the “eat-repent-repeat cycle.”

It’s a cycle with which May herself is familiar. Her Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops are the result of her personal struggles with food, weight, chronic dieting and negative body image.

“We get so focused on what we shouldn’t eat, what we should eat,” May said. “We forget that for a lot of people, it’s how you eat in the first place.”

Feeling of guilt can leech your enjoyment of food, as can multi-tasking while eating.

“We don’t even really enjoy it so we get to the end and we want another one,” she said.

If you take the time to savor whatever it is that you’re eating, chance are that you will not want any more of it. It’s called habituation. Basically, the brain gets tired of having the same thing over and over again.

“If you’re doing something else while you’re eating, your brain doesn’t get tired of [what you’re putting in your mouth],” May explained. “It just keeps moving automatically – hand to mouth.”

To combat that, you need to eat mindfully. A large part of that is learning to tell the difference between the physical feeling of hunger and mental perception of appetite, craving or simply wanting to eat.

“You’ll get more enjoyment and eat less food ultimately,” she said.

May says in order to engage in mindful eating, you need to minimize distractions, sit down to eat, savor aromas, textures and tastes, and pay attention to the signals your body sends you.

The bottom line is that you should choose food that you love, eat in a way that allows you to fully enjoy that food, and stop before you become uncomfortable.

Eating should be not only an experience, but a pleasurable one.

“Oftentimes, we’ll eat food that we really love and then ruin the experience by feeling miserable when we’re done.”

May’s book is available online at AmIHungry.com. See May on “The Dr. Oz Show” on 3TV Monday at 8 p.m., and then again Tuesday at 11 a.m.

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