Book Review: The Mindful Diet

Authors: Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD, Beth Reardon, MS, RD, L.D.N with Tania Hannan
Publisher: Simon and Shuster
Publication Date: 2015

Since the 1980’s, measured obesity has roughly doubled in Canada. In The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, authors Ruth Wolever and Beth Reardon provide a detailed plan to counteract this disturbing trend; one that offers an antidote to unhealthy eating patterns and the diet rollercoaster.

Based on their work at the Duke Integrative Medicine Center, this program involves the practice of mindfulness – a meditation-based approach to change eating behaviors. The program’s intent is to shift one’s relationship with food by tuning in to the body’s hunger and fullness signals, and beginning to notice patterns of eating while stressed or exhausted, and paying attention to how different foods affect energy levels. With this type of focused attention one can begin to realize just how deeply our food choices affect our health and thereby begin to slowly change them. This is not a quick fix plan. It takes time, energy and support to learn.

A key element to breaking the cycle of mindless overeating, the authors say, is cultivation of both attention and intention (infused with the qualities of kindness and curiosity). The first of many exercises throughout the book begin here. These are meant to help cultivate attention – using your senses and your awareness to notice what is happening around you and within you – and intention – to develop a positive self-image.

Unlike our automatic eating response, attention does not happen automatically, the authors explain. In Part II, ‘Building Your Foundation’, the reader is guided in developing a mindful meditation practice, learning to apply attention and intention to eating habits. This is where the real work begins. This section lays down the mindfulness principles: Be Here Now, Stop Judging, and Flex Your Kindness Muscles. With these in mind you can begin to change your relationship with food by getting to know your own mind with daily meditation.

Overeating has become the norm in our affluent society. According to the authors, one reason for this is the disparity between how much we eat versus what subtle signals of fullness or hunger our bodies give us.

The last section of the book, ‘Eating for Total Health’ offers practical applications to build on a new way of eating with information on: how certain foods affect the body on a cellular level, portion sizes, shopping lists, meal plans, dining out advice, and cooking techniques.

In this book, Wolever and Reardon have explained the psychology behind overeating while creating meaningful exercises and a sound eating plan that will help to overcome the unhealthy eating patterns many have come to accept as unavoidable, even normal.


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Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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