When I first started this book, I wasn’t a fan. I love the book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh, and the book “Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food” by Susan Albers; and these would probably still be my go-to books about mindful eating. But this little book grew on me, and I actually ended up liking it more than I thought I would.
If you or your clients are completely new to mindfulness at all, and you want to apply that to eating as well as generally, this would be a good book for you. One of the things I didn’t like about it at first was that it was so basic; but I realize that not everyone is well-versed in mindfulness at all, much less about eating. The other books I mentioned might require more knowledge about mindfulness in general.
Rossy is a yoga teacher as well as a clinical health psychologist teaching mindful eating, and she does a good job here of starting at the most basic level. Much of the book is simply about basic mindfulness, breathing and movement exercises that will help you in any endeavor. Rossy then ties these to eating, and how you can apply the skills she is teaching when it comes to choosing your food.
If you are looking for a diet, this isn’t it. Rossy is one of the camp that there is no good and bad foods; and when we label them as such, then we become good or bad when we partake of them. She believes that if you mindfully practice knowing if you are hungry; knowing if you are full; and then assessing what it really is that you want – that you will have a much healthier relationship with food.
All in all, this is a useful book to have if you – or your clients – have no knowledge of mindfulness or yoga and are looking for an introductory book that explains how to eat mindfully.
Disclaimer: the link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from purchases from this link.
Sonya Renee Taylor is an advocate for a body-shame free society. She’s not just talking about fat, but also any kind of body-shame or “body terrorism” (as she calls it) that is perpetrated in our world. This is a second edition, but it wasn’t clear to me what has changed since the first. There is also an accompanying workbook, so that might be helpful if you want to do more work around this issue.
Taylor wants us to embrace “radical self-love”, which is no easy task given the body-negative messages most of us have taken in over our lifetimes. She talks about our “origin” stories – the first time we remember feeling ashamed of our own bodies for whatever reason. But then also talks about media messages and governmental sanction of discriminations for various reasons. This isn’t just about fat-shaming, but shaming for all kinds of body-related reasons: disability, race, sexual orientation and so on.
She asks us to make peace with our own bodies and the bodies of others, and gives lots of practical advice about how to practice “shame free inquiry” of ourselves and others. This book challenged a lot of my thinking, and made me go “huh” several times, so in that sense I recommend it to everyone. I do feel like it left me wanting more, though, for reasons I can’t put my finger on. It could be that the workbook would give me the additional reflections that I was kind of longing for.
I received this book from Net Galley for my review, and the 2nd addition will be available for purchase on February 9, 2021.
Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed through this link. Summaries are NOT intended to replace purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading!
I have customarily used books about mindful eating to work with clients who have compulsive eating issues – books like “Savor” by Thich Nhat Hanh or “Eating Mindfully” by Susan Albers. After reading this book, I will probably still primarily use those sources. But there were some things that I did like about this book, so I’ll try to give a good overview.
The author, Glenn Livingston, apparently used to be a compulsive eater and overweight, so this method has worked for him, and many of the clients he coaches. The book reminded me a little bit of Bob Harper’s book “Skinny Rules”, which espouses just having a simple set of rules to follow so that dieting or eating isn’t as complicated as we make it, although it has some key differences too.
First, it’s important to understand the metaphor this book is built around. Basically, you imagine that you have an inner “Pig” who is the cause of all of your eating problems, and you imagine that this “Pig” is someone who does not want the best for you, will always try to trick you into overeating and make arguments against your best interests. Livingston suggests that it’s important you pretend the “Pig” is real. This is known in the psychology field as “externalizing”, and reminds me of a book I love called “Taming Your Gremlin”. Same basic idea – except the topic is self-talk – that there is a gremlin running around in all of our heads and we just have to basically tell it to sit down. Livingston makes it clear that calling it a “Pig” might not be useful for everyone, and if it isn’t, you can really call it anything as long as you realize that this is the source of your problems.
I did really like some things about this book. Livingston suggests making a Food Plan, with sections titled “Always”, “Never”, “Conditional” and “Unrestricted”. So in other words, veggies might be unrestricted, meaning I can eat them anytime, anywhere. But chocolate might be conditional – I can have it, but I can’t keep it in the house. Then there are the always an nevers, like “I will never eat fast food” or “I will always start my day with green tea”. He makes no real suggestions, since you have to completely own your Food Plan in order for this to work – so you can just start with one rule, or several. You can have something in every category, or maybe just one. While my work with eating disorders has made me a bit wary of rules, I can see how that really only applies to unrealistic rules, or rules that you don’t really want to follow. I mean, we all know kale is good for you, but if I make a rule to eat kale every day, that is not gonna work for me! So I think as long as each person really makes some realistic and simple rules, this could really work. In fact, I’ve made a couple of simple rules for myself to try this out. He makes it crystal clear that you should only make rules that you can 100% commit to forever.
There were some things I didn’t particularly like, though. He says a few times in the book things like “the only thing you have to do to not binge is to not binge!” I get what he is saying – he’s trying to help us understand that no one is making us do this; it is well within our control to not eat. But I can just say on behalf of myself and my many compulsive eating clients that if it were indeed just this easy, we’d all be thin – and we certainly wouldn’t need this book! There is a lot of this kind of talk in the book. If you aren’t confident, just declare yourself confident! If you want to eat, just don’t! Simple, right?
For all of his talk about NEVER binging again, and one bite off your Food Plan being a binge, he then talks about what happens if you DO binge – and basically you adjust your sails and move on. How is that really different from what we are all doing all the time? It’s paradoxical – you have to commit to 100% never binge and never go off your Food Plan – but oh by the way when you do, you can be nice to yourself, evaluate your plan, make changes if you need to and then move on. This might be helpful for some people who are in the “I ate one chip, might as well eat the whole bag” crowd, but for most of us who are really trying, we’re already doing this.
Lastly, he talks about the whole idea of the addiction model and the idea of “powerlessness” as a tool to surrender and heal. He thinks it’s B.S., basically – mainly with food, but you get the feeling that he kinda feels that way about alcohol and drugs too. My best friend who was an alcoholic for 29 years and is now clean and sober for 12 might powerfully argue that she wasn’t powerless over alcohol. But in Livingston’s mind, you just make up your mind not to do something and then you don’t do it anymore.
This book kind of feels like a long infomercial, lots of caps lock and exclamation points. Plus the idea of “mind over matter” and an inner “Pig” might really turn some people off. But I overrode my distaste of these things and persevered, and I actually have a couple of new Food Rules that I think will be really helpful. So if you can ignore what you don’t like and take the helpful nuggets, you might find a few in the book.
Disclaimer The above link is an Amazon Affiliate link. I receive a small compensation from purchases made through this link. Also, the summary above is NOT intended to replace purchasing the book. It is simply intended to save you the time reading, if you can’t carve out time to read the book right now.