Mindful Eating - a guide to thinking about your diet

Mindful Eating authors, Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson at Parbold

Mindful Eating authors, Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson at Parbold - Credit: Archant

Two women from Lancashire have written book designed to make us to think more about what we eat. Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson tell their own story

Mindful Eating authors, Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson at Parbold

Mindful Eating authors, Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson at Parbold - Credit: Archant

Take a moment to think back to the last meal you ate. Did you savour every mouthful or did you rush it to get on with something ‘more important’? Was it a celebration of delicious, nutritious food you had cooked from scratch or was it a slightly guilt-inducing fast food quick fix?

You’ll probably agree that few people in our ‘fast’ culture take the time for preparing and eating good food. So how can we begin to redress the balance and get back to a healthy relationship with food? We believe the answer lies in mindfulness, and have recently published a book on the subject, Mindful Eating.

The book’s aim is to help people to move away from the everyday mindlessness that sadly seems to have become the norm with eating habits. People are definitely aware that something needs to change, and we’re excited about helping to bring it about.

While being mindful may sound like something you could only do sitting cross-legged under a Banyan Tree, it is actually much simpler than that. Mindfulness simply means bringing your full attention to whatever you are doing; if you pay full attention to your eating it helps you to get in control. And when you are in control, you can choose to make the changes you want.

Have you ever eaten your lunch quickly at your desk, and finished before you’ve even noticed what you’re eating? That’s mindlessness - what we’re encouraging people to do is the opposite.

Our approach to changing eating habits is the opposite of a quick fix, or a fad diet. Instead, the book helps people to make changes that last for good. And contrary to what many people think, it doesn’t need to take up most of your time. We both have busy lives, with families and work. We have found that becoming more mindful actually helps you to prioritise what’s important and make the most of your time.

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Combining nutrition and psychology, was a perfect partnership. We have been regularly running group ‘Mindful Eating’ courses from our base at Cedar Farm in Mawdesley, now with many success stories along the way.

Early last year we were approached by London & New York-based publishers, Cico Books, to write Mindful Eating. People have often commented on the courses that they would love us to write a book. Now we have.

Amanda Ferguson, one of the course participants from 2012, said: ‘I had tried many different diets and when these stopped working I turned to slimming and water retention tablets, even laxatives, anything that would, I thought, aid fast weight loss.

‘It always ended in disappointment when the weight crept back on. At an all time low, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose and I signed up to the Mindful Eating group course.

‘It has now been over a year since I set out on my journey. I am three stone lighter and have found it easier than ever before to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I now enjoy food and its benefits. I now enjoy a stable weight and a still mind.’

About the authors

Mother-of-two Rachel Bartholomew, far left, is a nutrition consultant and writer with her own clinic at Cedar Farm in Mawdesley, and is a full member of both the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. www.rachelbartholomew.co.uk

Following her Master’s Degree, Mandy Pearson, on the right, had extensive training in counselling, clinical psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and NLP over 20 years. She lives in Southport with her family. www.seastartraining.co.uk

If you’d like to find out more, you can visit their website: www.lovemindfuleating.co.uk or contact Rachel or Mandy directly on 01704 821711. Mindful Eating is published by Cico Books, January 2014.

5 Mindful Eating tips

Be in the moment as you eat. Take time to relish each aroma, flavour, colour and texture of the food from when you are preparing and cooking it to when you sit down to eat it.

Pause before you eat. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths into your belly before you begin eating anything.

Take time to eat. Sip a glass of water as you eat and put down your knife and fork between each mouthful.

Become a detective about why you eat. When you get a craving for a quick sugar-fix, sit down, breathe and observe it – ask yourself what else you might be really craving – a hug? Some time alone? A pat on the back – and go and get that instead.

Make visible the foods you want to eat and keep out of sight those that you don’t.

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