Jill Carlson, third-grade teacher, Chicago, Illinois, shares her tips for eating mindfully.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

Jill Carlson's mindful journey began at age 30, after her belief that thinness equals happiness was shattered. "I had lost 60 pounds, and instead of making me feel awesome, it made me feel really depressed. I had all these emotions that were coming to the surface because I wasn't using food to cover them up anymore," Carlson says. "I gained back all my weight plus some extra. I knew there had to be a better way." She started researching and came across Dr. Albers' work, as well as Evelyn Tribole's Intuitive Eating. "I realized I had to trust my body's inner signals." The result for Jill is a happier, healthier, diet-liberated life. Here, she talks about how she disengaged from the diet battle and won the war.

  • Put weight loss on the back burner. "I got rid of all my diet books, my trackers, and my dieting tools, and unhooked from my scale. I had to put weight loss on the back burner so I could focus on eating behaviors that would make me more mindful. I had to learn to connect with my hunger and satisfaction signals. That was really challenging for me because I had learned to ignore my body's signals."
  • Be awake at the plate. "Step one was learning to eat without distraction. If I ate in front of the TV or computer, I didn't realize what I was eating. I had missed the whole experience, which made me want to eat more. In our country, what's prized is being a multitasker, but the only way we can tune in and even understand if we're hungry or not is if we're still."
  • Observe. "Another part of being awake is savoring the food that you're eating and noticing how it makes you feel. When you give yourself permission to eat all foods, you give yourself freedom to observe—'Am I really enjoying it? Do I like the taste?' I used to eat Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter every night because tomorrow was the day I'd stop. Now, when I buy ice cream it gets freezer burn because it's in there so long. If I really listen and tune in, I can trust my body, and that's a really empowering feeling."