“mindful eating” by Jan Chozen Bays, MD

book cover

Subtitle: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food

Recommended to me by: a client

Unlike the deep compassion and acceptance for how things are right now that I found in Cheri Huber’s books, this book is judgmental, directive, and critical. It recommends mindfulness as a method to restrict food and lose weight, even though it has been repeatedly scientifically shown that 95% of people regain weight lost through dieting no matter what the dieting method.

At the same time, mindfulness about eating is useful, as long as it is done with kindness. Eating is central to our existence, nourishing body and soul.

Jan Chozen Bays is both a Western medical doctor and a Zen teacher. She identifies 7 kinds of hunger: eye hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cell hunger, and heart hunger. We can check in with ourselves about what level of hunger we are experiencing in each channel, and what would nourish us via that channel.

We can pause before, during, and after meals to invite awareness of our physical sensations in the mouth and belly. We can experiment with chewing a bite thoroughly. We can pay attention to the first three bites. We can try stopping eating when we are no longer hungry, rather than full. We can bring awareness to emptiness.

We can do body scans and send kindness and gratitude to all our parts. Hakuin Zenji’s soft butter meditation: Imagine a lump of soft butter the size and shape of a duck egg on the crown of your head. As it melts and trickles down inside and outside you, it permeates you with warmth and good feelings. Feel it trickle through you all the way to your feet.

We can give ourselves boundless permission to eat exactly the way we eat right now.

This book is not recommended for anyone who is prone to self-judgment about weight and eating habits.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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