by Char Wilkins, LCSW
I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking what is the difference between the MB-EAT program and our Mindful Eating, Conscious Living (MECL) 5-day professional training at the Chapin Mill Retreat Center in Rochester, NY, August 4-9, 2012. I have the unique qualification of having taught both the MB-EAT program and the Mindful Eating, Conscious Living training which I co-teach with Jan Chozen Bays, MD, so I feel I can speak to some of the differences which may help you decide if our training is right for you.
Jan and I see mindfulness as the base from which we work- the heart of the work. We recognize that many professionals have extensive skills in some areas but need help with mindful eating skills, so Jan and I created this training based on Jan’s book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. We have uniquely brought Jan’s deep understanding of mindfulness and meditation, her extensive work with distressed eating, and her medical background together with my individual and group therapeutic experience working with people with distressed eating patterns, MBSR and MBCT training, and meditation practice.
The professional training we offer is clearly based in a mindfulness approach that addresses thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors associated with distressed eating, and provides practical, doable exercises and simple meditations that you can weave into your individual work or into a group program. In our training we don’t teach about calories or how to lose weight, nor do we talk about dietary plans. This is different from most trainings. We do talk about quality of food, types of food the body must have, hunger and fullness, and many other related issues. We are focused on helping people change their relationship to food, eating and their bodies. We provide you with a six-session sample curriculum, yours to adapt to your needs, and CDs that contain meditations and exercises.
MB-EAT, Jean Kristeller’s research initiative, has illuminated some important points with a focus on weight loss, one of the techniques used being mindfulness. For some professionals difficulties arose in teaching a mindfulness approach while instructing patients to reduce calories, use pedometers and assess weight loss. Professionals got confused, and patients get confused. For some people this is not a problem. The MB-EAT program is a very structured program for groups, and many clinicians told me that they were working one-on-one and wanted the flexibility to bring mindful eating to their individual patients. This is simply a different approach and very valuable for some populations.
Jan and I feel that your own personal experience of going through this hands-on training, doing the eating and mindfulness exercises, hearing your colleagues’ responses and questions, practicing meditation, and being in a supportive community will not only enhance your learning but give you confidence to teach mindful eating to your clients. In teaching mindful eating skills you will provide patients with skills for a lifetime which they can begin again and again if need be, without the “side effects” of yoyo dieting. Additionally, in becoming mindful it spills into all aspects of their life- it becomes a way of being, rather than constantly doing or trying another fad or diet.
I hope this is helpful and will help you choose the program that is best suited to you and the population you serve
Char Wilkins, LCSW is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist who specializes in working with women who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma, and those who suffer with depression, anxiety and disordered eating. She trains professionals in the application of mindfulness in psychotherapy, advanced MBCT skills, mindful eating, and was awarded teacher certification in MBSR by the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA. Char serves on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating and is the owner/director of the Center for Mindful Living, LLC in Connecticut.