Ramila's Health Tips

Ramila's Healing Arts Clinic

Mindfulness is an increasingly popular concept we discussed last month and, as promised, this month I'll cover mindful eating. Why is this important? Research shows that distractions while we eat prevent us from enjoying what we're eating. Called 'mindless eating', this seemingly innocent behaviour has been linked with overeating, stress and anxiety. Find out more below...


These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.

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Volume 7, Issue 6

Ramila Padiachy

Doctorate of Natural Medicine (DNM)® R.Ac.


Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic

1437 Woodroffe Avenue
Ottawa ON (map)


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Mindful Eating

You've been working hard at the computer, and it's time for a treat. You promised yourself... let's say, a piece of delicious dark chocolate. You take a bite - mmmm, fantastic. You take a second bite - still good, but maybe not quite as wonderful as the first bite. An email catches your attention, which results in you watching a brief video. All of a sudden, or so it seems, your chocolate is gone! How did that happen?! Clearly not an example of mindful eating!

First, here is a brief review of the principles of mindfulness:

  • Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
  • Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
  • Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.
  • With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
  • Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Mindful eating is:

  • allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom
  • choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savour and taste
  • paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body, including the colours, smells, textures, flavours, temperatures, and even the sounds (e.g. crunch) of your food
  • acknowledging responses to food (like, neutral, dislike) without judgment
  • learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating
  • while avoiding judgment or criticism, watching when the mind gets distracted, pulling away from full attention to what you are eating or drinking (For example, watch impulses to grab a book, turn on the TV, catch up with Facebook, or do a web search on some interesting topic. What you need to do is notice the impulse and then return to just eating.)
  • noticing how eating affects your mood and how emotions, like anxiety, influence your eating

Our habits of eating and not paying attention are not easy to change. Lasting change takes time and needs to be done slowly, one small change at a time.


Mindful Eating Tips

  1. healthy breakfastShift out of autopilot eating
    What did you eat for breakfast? Many people eat the same thing day in and day out. Notice whether you are stuck in a rut or routine.
  2. Take mindful bites
    Did you ever eat an entire plate of food and not taste one single bite? Bring all of your senses to the dinner table. Notice the aroma of freshly baked bread. Notice the texture of yogurt on your tongue. Taste your meal. Experience each bite from start to finish.
  3. Attentive eating
    If you get the urge to have a snack while you're working or studying, stop and take a break so that you can pay total attention to eating. Avoid multitasking while you eat. Just eat and do nothing else at the same time.
  4. Mindfully check in
    Ask yourself, "How hungry am I on a scale of 1 to 10?" Each time you eat, ask yourself, "Am I physically hungry?" Plan to eat until your are satisfied, and neither stuffed nor starving.
  5. Think mindfully
    Observe negative thoughts about eating, like, "I'm so stupid, how could I have eaten that?" Negative thoughts can trigger overeating, or stop you from adequately feeding your hunger. Remember that a thought is just a thought and not a fact.
  6. Mindful speech
    Chatting about dieting and fat is so common we are often not aware of it and the impact it can have on our self-esteem. Keep in mind how comments like, "I'm so fat," or the "I'm fat; no you're not" debate, can affect someone struggling with food issues.
  7. Mindful eating support
    Friends and family can provide a lot of support, but often it's helpful to obtain assistance from a trained professional. Be aware that family and friends may feel uncomfortable about you making changes. They may sometimes even attempt to sabotage your efforts (to increase their comfort levels, not because they don't wish you well) - be on the lookout for this. I'd be pleased to offer advice.


Mindful Eating Exercises

Try choosing at least one of these exercises to help you practice mindful eating:

  1. Take the first 4 sips of a cup of hot tea or coffee with full attention.
  2. If you are reading and eating, alternate these activities instead of doing them both at once. Read a page, then put the book down and eat a few bites, savouring the tastes, then read another page, and so on.
  3. At family meals ask everyone to eat in silence for the first 5 minutes, thinking about the many people who brought the food to your table.
  4. Eat one meal a week mindfully, alone and in silence. Be creative. For example, could you eat lunch behind a closed office door, or even alone in your car?


Things to do instead of Mindless Eating

readingTo stop mindless eating, try an alternate activity to distract yourself:

  • Turn on your favourite hilarious TV program or watch a favourite funny movie. Sometimes laughter is just what we need to stop wanting to eat everything in sight.
  • Take a walk. If you've had dinner, and still feel you'd like more, put on your sneakers and go for a walk. Getting out of the house and into the world can help snap you out of your thoughts of food.
  • Do something mindless. Knitting can be calming for many people. Other suggestions include jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, word games, and other games. Find something mindless and calming and do it - without eating at the same time!
  • Get lost in your favourite book. Immersing yourself in a book is a great way to escape reality for a while. Find a bestseller or a series and allow yourself to get lost in the characters and the plot. Soon those brownies will no longer be calling your name.
  • Yoga is an amazing tool to get you out of your head and into your body. It's the exact opposite of out-of-control eating, which is spending far too much time in your head and not in your body. Try a yoga class and see how deep yoga breathing can transform your life.
  • Put on your favourite music and belt it out! A great way to elevate your mood is to blast your favourite songs and sing your heart out. If this would be frowned upon at your house, take a drive with your music.
  • Clean. This may not be your favourite activity, but it will distract you from wanting to eat. Plus you'll feel good that you've been productive and can cross stuff off your to do list.
  • Call (or FaceTime or Skype) a friend. Is there someone you've been meaning to catch up with? Now is a great time to do it, and they'll be glad to hear from you.
  • Go to a store or somewhere where there are people around. Being out and about in the world gets you out of yourself. It forces you to focus on what's going on around you and on all the other things there are in the world beside those chips beckoning to you at home.


If all else fails...

Here are some suggestions for eating better mindlessly!

One factor is the food you choose; a second is portion size. Let's focus on portion size for now. Beware of food that comes in large packages - it seems to imply that eating more is appropriate, typical and normal. Using larger plates and bowls also results in larger portion sizes. And most of us have a tendency to clean our plates. Further, most people are unwilling to admit or acknowledge that these factors actually influence them, but there's plenty of evidence that they do.

This tells us that there are a number of things we can do before we eat that will result in eating better even if we are not overly mindful when we're eating. This includes making a conscious (mindful) effort to:

  • reduce serving sizes and consumption by using smaller plates and bowls
  • use smaller packages or break large packages into sub-packages
  • replace short wide glasses with tall narrow ones
  • use smaller spoons when serving yourself or when eating from a bowl
  • eliminate the cookie jar or replace it with a fruit bowl
  • wrap tempting foods in foil to make them less visible and more forgettable
  • place healthier, low-density foods in the front of the refrigerator and the less healthy foods in the back
  • repackage food into smaller containers to suggest smaller portion sizes
  • put smaller dinner portions on (smaller) plates in advance, i.e. serve 'restaurant style' rather than putting large bowls or platters of food on the table so people can help themselves
  • never eat from a package - always put food on a plate or in a bowl to make portion estimation easier
  • reduce the visibility of stored foods by moving them to a cupboard or the basement immediately after they're purchased
  • reduce the convenience of stockpiled foods by boxing them up or freezing them
  • have lots of healthy, low energy density foods to stimulate their consumption and to leave less room for their high density counterparts

I hope these tips make it easier for you to eat mindfully, or at least better. You may be interested in the Nature's Sunshine IN.FORM program that is designed to help people not just burn fat, but be fit for life. The program is designed to help you make permanent changes in your life - it's not a 'quick fix' that leaves you to return to your old habits after you've completed it. If you would like more information about this, I can put you in touch with an IN.FORM coach in your area so you can consider signing up for the program.


For additional information, please email ramila@ramilas.com or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also, on our website, see back issues of this newsletter, additional information about products, order products, and see information about our Clinic.


  1. ©The Center for Mindful Eating Free to reproduce and distribute for educational purposes only.  In: IN.FORM Participant Manual. Nature's Sunshine Products of Canada Ltd, 2014, p. 144.
  2. Chozen Bays J. Mindful eating. psychologytoday.com/blog/mindful-eating/200902/mindful-eating  Accessed September 16, 2015.
  3. Albers S. 7 Mindful eating tips. ©National Eating Disorders Association. nationaleatingdisorders.org  Accessed September 16, 2015.
  4. 10 things to do instead of mindless eating. huffingtonpost.com/jenn-hand/10-things-to-do-instead-o_b_7235564.html  Accessed September 16, 2015.
  5. Wansink B. From mindless eating to mindlessly eating better. Physiology & Behavior 2010;100:454-463.

Disclaimer: The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.


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I'm so glad I discovered the special talents of Ramila. It's amazing how she can study your eye and know what's going on in your body. She has helped me tremendously in my health level. It's only been a few months, but I feel I have better control over my body. My energy is up, my stress level is down, and my immune system is working better.

- Jan F

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When health begins, dis-ease ends.