Mass Shootings: How to Talk to Your Kids

After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, certainly no one could imagine that over the next 20 years, 200 more school shootings would occur. In the first 79 days of 2018 alone, there were 12 school shootings, compared to 9 over the entire year of 2017. Sadly, school shootings are becoming an epidemic in the United States. As the nation struggles to find a solution to the violence, our kids’ safety and security hang in the balance.

How you talk to your kids about these tragedies varies by age and per individual child, but it’s important to take note that both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children under 8. Kids under 8 have difficulty telling if the violence they’re watching at the movies or on TV is real or fantasy, which can cause great fear and anxiety. For this same reason, experts also recommend that children under 11 avoid watching the news entirely. At this young age, children’s brains have not yet developed enough to cope with violent tragedies, and exposure to these realities can be damaging psychologically.

For children over the age of 8, or if you believe your child might hear about the incident from others, first summarize the event in a single sentence. Keep in mind that your child will use your words to tell the story to themselves in their head, so choose your words carefully. What you say should also reflect your family’s beliefs and values. Speak in a calm and matter-of-fact tone of voice, as your emotional reaction will have a long lasting impact on your child, more so than your words. Children will have a lot of questions so try to stay focused on positives, such as the people that helped and the support of the community.

For pre-teens and teens, start by asking what they know. Ask how they feel, and listen carefully to what they say. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.

Your child may want to do something to help. Discuss what you can do together to help the victims’ families, the school, or the community. Volunteering can help us cope with tragedy as we feel the positive effects of contributing and doing good for people in need.

 

If you or your child are struggling to cope emotionally because of an incident of mass violence, a licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today so we can schedule an appointment to talk.

Why You Should Limit Phone Time with Your Teens

When your child was small, they most likely couldn’t go to bed at night unless they had their favorite blanky or stuffed animal. Well, just because they’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean they still don’t have dependencies. Teens today can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their beloved smartphone by their side.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go out bowling or to get a pizza. We’d actually make eye contact with one another and, you know, talk. But pay attention to the gaggles of teens in malls and other public spaces and they all have their heads down, eyes glued to their phones! It would seem cellphones are the modern security blanket and no teen wants to be without theirs.

In this way, you could almost classify this dependency on technology as an outright addiction. A strong word for sure, but perhaps one that fits perfectly in this case.

The University of Maryland conducted a study as part of The World Unplugged project where researchers evaluated students from 10 different countries to see what would happen when the students had to forgo their phones for 24 hours. Their results were eye opening. They found that the majority of students experienced distressed during this 24-hour period.

Another large-scale study involving more than 2,500 college students found that 60% of them admitted to being addicted to their phone.

But this addiction can sometimes lead to unhealthy mental behaviors. For instance, researchers at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea found that teens who used their smartphones the most showed troubling psychological issues such as aggression, depression, anxiety and tended to withdrawal more.

While more research is needed, and while not everyone in the mental health community categorizes cellphone addiction as a real disorder, yet, it is clear that teens are having trouble curbing their own technological desires.

Signs Your Teen May be Addicted to Their Phone

How do you prevent your own kid from experiencing the aggression, depression and anxiety associated with overuse of a smartphone? First, you must recognize signs that there may be a problem:

– They feel the need to respond to everything immediately. They seem unable to resist that urge.
– They constantly check their phone, even when it isn’t ringing or vibrating. This behavior actually has a name and is called ‘phantom vibration’. This is a definite sign that your teen may have an addiction.
– They are disconnected from the real world and ignore what is happening right in front of them.
– They feel anxious and even angry when they are away from their phone.

What You Can Do?

First, try speaking with your teen about their phone use. They may or may not be receptive to the talk, but it’s a good idea to make the effort before you suddenly throw down new cellphone rules and regulations.

Next, set some rules. Understand this will be hard for your teen to accept, so go a bit easy. You may want to start by saying cellphones are not allowed at the dinner table. Of course, you as a parent must follow your own rules.

Next, you might want to enforce a “no bedtime” rule. Studies have found electronic equipment like laptops and cellphones hinder sleep. Try and encourage your teen to leave their phone in their bag and try some quiet time before bed by reading or listening to music.

Above all, encourage your teen to start regulating their own behaviors. That’s what growing up is all about. Ask for their input before setting rules but be firm about enforcing them.

If you find you have trouble speaking with your teen, you may want to seek the guidance of a trained therapist who can facilitate communication and offer tools for managing any upsets moving forward.

If you would like to explore family treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

3 Signs Social Media is Hindering Your Happiness

How long has it been since you checked your Facebook page or Twitter account? If you’re like most people, you use social media many times throughout the day.

But while you may think social media is fun, studies have suggested that it can take a toll on our emotions. One such study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user.

Professor Margaret Duffy, a co-author of the research, said about the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”

Other studies have revealed that most people tend to edit photos and only show the ones that make their lives seem more attractive to others.

It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes unimaginable amounts of grief. I see it on an almost-daily basis. Decent people with much to offer feeling unworthy of happiness because they feel inferior to others. They walk into my office with what appears to be the weight of the world on their shoulders.

I have found much of this weight stems from not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others.

If you are now wondering whether maybe your happiness has taken a hit from social media use, here are 5 signs it has:

1.  You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good

Let’s face it, we all love feeling appreciated. It feels good to get that positive feedback when you post a photo or event from your life. But if you find you only have good days on the days you are getting that positive feedback online, you may be depending on social media too much.

2.  You’re an Instant Gratification Addict

We have become a society of people who seek out instant gratification. While it’s okay to want instant oats and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy and good through social media is very harmful.

If the promise of instant gratification is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent.

3.  You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again

I find many of my adult clients care just as much about how many Facebook friends and likes they get as my teenage clients do. It’s as if the adults are reliving the high school popularity contests all over again. At the end of the day, are all of those Facebook friends really your friend?

True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough on whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem.

The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. They, like you, want to measure up to the rest of the world.

Know that every human being is essentially struggling to feel worthy of being alive. It’s something we all seem to have in common. Instead of trying to be better than each other, let’s all instead try to have more compassion for each other.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time with self-worth issues and you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out to me. I’d love to discuss how I may be able to help.

How To Help Your Child Who Is Being Bullied

Watching your child endure bullying and harassment from their peers is a difficult and painful experience for most parents. We want our children to be happy and healthy, and when they hurt, we hurt.

Whether they’re at school or just looking at Snapchat on their phones, it can be virtually impossible to try and intervene or attempt to stop bullying behavior. Although you can take steps to protect your children as much as possible by contacting other parents or appropriate school staff, you can’t always be at your child’s side to protect them. One thing you can do, however, is empower them to handle difficult situations when you’re not around.

Listen

It’s important to let your child talk, and not just to hear them talk, but to listen, pay attention, and ask questions. Make sure to set aside a quiet time for you and your child to calmly talk about the events of the day. Put out their favorite healthy snack and find out how their day went. Be silent at times to quietly encourage your child to be more forthcoming. Be patient, as your child may be ashamed, afraid, or embarrassed to talk to you about their experience being bullied.

Talk

Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to talk about their day. “What happened on the bus ride home today?” or “What did you do at recess?”

Support

Make sure your child knows that it’s not her fault she’s being bullied. Let her know that she doesn’t deserve what’s happened, that she deserves respect, and that she’s not alone. Your child should know that you always there for her. She should also know that she has the support of her teachers and principal, and that bullying is not tolerated at school.

Empower

Empower your child by teaching them to look at the color of their friend’s eyes. Looking at their bully in the eye in this same manner will help them look up so they can appear and feel more confident.

 

Bullying is an issue that doesn’t just affect children, it also affects adults. Throughout their lives your child will experience difficult people and situations. By learning at a young age how to best handle conflict, they will have a confidence and skill set that will benefit them for life.

If you or your child require additional help coping with bullying or harassment, you should seek out professional assistance from a licensed, trained clinician. Call my office today so we can set up an appointment to talk.

5 Tips for Dealing with an Adult Bully

Bullies in movies and television are frequently shown getting their come-uppance, the story wrapped up neatly with a happy ending and maybe even with the bully learning a lesson by the end. Unfortunately, real life is rarely so simple.

If you’re dealing with a bully as an adult, you’re not alone. A 2017 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 60.3 million Americans are affected by workplace bullying. The number may be staggering, but the problem is not unsurmountable. Dealing with a bully as an adult is not the same as dealing with one as a child: you don’t need to rely on anyone to help, and the solution begins and ends with you. Following are five tips for dealing with an adult bully.

1.  Don’t try to fix them

You might be tempted to try and understand or help the bully. However, adults who bully have deep-rooted issues, and their cruelty can only be mended by self-realization and self-reflection. The odds are great that any attempt on your part to help your bully will be unproductive. Your time is better spent focused on yourself.

2.  Don’t sink to their level

It’s a completely natural human response to want to return the bully’s abuse. But if you sink to their level, it could backfire by either the bully turning it on you, or you may be seen by others as the source of the problem. Additionally, you’re satisfying the bully with your response. Take the high road so the bully doesn’t get a pay off, and you can’t be seen as having brought the problems upon yourself.

3.  Stop being a victim

For some reason, the bully has singled you out as a target. Changing your behavior and responses to the bully will change the dynamic. Keep your cool, be confident in your abilities, and if you’re the butt of their joke, laugh along with them. Failing to respond negatively, which is what they want, will cause them to lose interest and find another target.

4.  Limit your exposure

If your bully is at work, do what you can to avoid being in their presence. Take a different lunch hour, change your schedule, change departments if possible. Block the bully on social media, and if necessary, block their friends so you aren’t exposed to their negativity.

5.  Talk to someone

If your bully is at the workplace, it may behoove you to talk to your manager or Human Resources. Before you do so, consider possible repercussions. Anticipate worst-case scenarios so you can be prepared in case it’s somehow turned on you and your job is in jeopardy. Call a friend or loved one to vent or get advice. You can also talk to a mental health professional who can help you with specific strategies for managing this situation.

 

If you’re having difficulty dealing with a bully in your life and need the advice of a licensed, trained professional, I can help. Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

Tips to Talking Mental Health with Your Teen / Child

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a mental illness, you know firsthand how the diagnosis can impact your life. Mental illness is not only challenging for adults to understand but children as well. With so many myths and misconceptions surrounding mental illness, it’s easy for young people to feel anxious and confused.

With this in mind, here are some tips on how you can speak to your child about mental health.

Be Open

Your child is most likely noticing a change or difference in behavior from mom, dad, or another relative with mental illness. There is no point in keeping it a secret. Be open about the diagnosis and give the illness a name (depression, bipolar disorder…). Doing so will help alleviate some fear and insecurities as well as clear up any incorrect assumptions.

Alleviate Fault or Responsibility

Most kids naturally feel they want to help fix mommy or daddy, or they may feel something they did caused their loved one to not be well.

Reassure your child and explain that the illness is not their fault nor their responsibility.

Invite Their Honesty

While you may feel you need to keep a stiff upper lip for your spouse or loved one’s benefit, your kids should feel free to openly express their feelings, whether these feelings be fear, sadness, or anger. Listen to whatever they say without judging what they say.

Invite Questions

Your kids will have a lot of them, so invite them to ask. If they don’t feel comfortable asking questions face-to-face, use a journal. They can write down any questions they want, and you’ll write the answer and give it back to them. Knowing they can come to you and that you are still the parent will give them a much-needed sense of calm and security.

Communicate at a Level that is Age Appropriate

Preschool-age children will need different language than teenagers. They will need less details, whereas older children will want more details. School-age children will take the information shared and begin to worry what it means for them and the family. Be prepared to answer many questions concerning their safety and security.

And teenagers are a unique bunch – you will have to follow your teen’s lead. Some may speak openly, already aware to a certain extent about mental health issues. Some may seem withdrawn and not speak much at all. You will want to continue to check in with them to make sure they are doing okay.

 

Talking to your kids about mental health won’t be easy, but as long as you follow these tips, you will have an opportunity to share important information and offer love, support, and guidance.

If you feel you and your family could use some extra support in discussing a loved one’s mental illness, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to talk about counseling options with you.

The ADD / ADHD Cookbook: Help Balance Your Brain with Food

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, you may be wondering if what you eat has any impact on how you feel or your disorder. The answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!”

Modern science is now proving that diet contributes to many of the major diseases we encounter in life such as heart disease and type II diabetes. One of the findings is how food affects inflammation in the body, inflammation being the root cause of all disease.

Inflammation can also affect the brain, and many health experts are now making a connection between diet and diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, and ADD/ADHD.

Yes, that’s right – your diet does affect your/your loved one’s ADD or ADHD. Which means the extra boost to your treatment that you’ve been looking for has been hiding in your fridge all this time.

With this in mind, let’s talk about what you should… and should NOT be eating if you have ADD/ADHD:

AVOID

Sugar

The more we find out about this white substance, the more it starts to feel like none of us should be eating it. Excessive sugar intake can tamper with the reward pathways in the brain that are involved in drug addiction. Many believe it can also tamper with the hyperactivity trigger. Sugar also causes erratic blood sugar levels, which cause dramatic mood swings in some people.

Besides the obvious culprits like candy, cookies, and soda, it’s also important to avoid most packaged foods, which often have high amounts of hidden sugars. This includes condiments, soups, and cereal.

Colorants and Other Additives

Colorants and other additives are meant to make our food look more appealing or last longer on store shelves, but many people believe that these substances also contribute to inflammation in the body.

As with sugar, a good rule of thumb is to avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible. Artificial drinks are a big culprit. Always read labels and when you see the word “flavor” or “flavored” anywhere on the package, the safest bet is to set the package back down and walk away.

Common Food Allergens

Many children and adults have allergies or sensitivities to foods that contain gluten, wheat, corn, and soy. These have been associated with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Consider getting officially tested for these sensitivities and allergies with your doctor to see if there are any other foods that should be personally avoided.

EAT MORE

Protein

Are you eating enough protein? Most people simply don’t get enough into their diet. Protein is not only responsible for building muscle, but also building and repairing every tissue, organ, and even hormones.

Research has also shown that ADD/ADHD symptoms are caused by an imbalance in the catecholaminergic systems in the brain areas that control memory, motor functioning and emotional regulation. The two most abundant catecholamines in the brain are the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these are derived from the amino acid tyrosine and amino acids are derived from proteins, so make sure to get enough into your diet from sources such as lean meats, eggs, and nuts.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are important to anyone for a variety of reasons. They reduce inflammation and also help to transmit brain signals. Health experts have also linked ADHD to an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. You can increase your omega-3 consumption by eating cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.

If you have a kiddo that doesn’t like the taste of fish, consider a quality omega-3 supplement. It’s true that the less expensive supplements can occasionally have a harmless fishy smell, but through trial and error or asking a pharmacist you’ll quickly find that there are many options available that are no more offensive smelling than household aspirin.

B Vitamins

Remember those neurotransmitters I just mentioned in the section about protein? B vitamins actually help to synthesize those neurotransmitters. You can eat all the protein in the world but if you are deficient in B vitamins, you won’t get the full benefits. While foods like fish, meat, and eggs are excellent sources of B vitamins, most health experts agree supplementation is the easiest and most effective way to get enough into your body.

 

After adjusting your diet, if you feel you need some extra help getting your ADD/ADHD symptoms under control, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.

Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm and make sure they grow up healthy and happy. You make sure they wear a bike helmet and knee pads, but if they do take a tumble and break an arm, you immediately seek medical attention.

Some “boo-boos” aren’t as noticeable as a broken bone, but these emotional wounds hurt just as bad. If left untreated, these emotional injuries can result in further problems as your child grows. This is where therapy comes in.

“But isn’t my child too young for therapy?” you might be wondering. In my practice, I have seen children as young as three years of age. Trauma and behavioral issues don’t have an age restriction, they can affect a child at any age.

Signs Your Child May Need Therapy

Instead of focusing on the age of the child, it’s better to address the particular problems he or she may be having. As the parent, you know your child best. While a friend or family doctor may tell you your child is just “going through a stage,” you may recognize that something seems… off or not-right. Trust your instincts.

With this in mind, here are some signs that may indicate a problem that may require specialized attention. Your child:

  • Is having trouble at school (grades, bullying others, talking back to teachers…)
  • Is attempting to injure themselves
  • Avoids family functions and ignores friends
  • Experiences frequent mood swings and/or extreme emotions (anxiety, angry outbursts)
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Had difficulty sleeping
  • Is eating far more or far less than before

This is by no means an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the kinds of behavior that may need addressing.

It is also important to mention that other things can be ruled out before you decide to give therapy a try. For instance, has your child had a full medical work-up recently? Her difficulties at school could be caused by an emotional disturbance, OR they could be caused by poor eyesight. His insomnia could be caused by anxiety, OR it could be the result of a biological issue that is causing him pain. Are you and your partner arguing more? Is your child’s behavior a natural response to an emotional situation at home?

Talk to Your Child About Therapy

While you may be worried your child is too young for therapy, your child may quite like the idea of talking to ‘someone special’ about how they feel. And, at the end of the day, your child is taking cues from you on how to feel about things. If you feel therapy has a certain stigma, your child will feel shame and not want to explore this option. But if you see therapy as beneficial, chances are your child will as well and be open to trying it.

Once you decide to explore treatment options, look for a therapist who specializes in helping very young children. They will most likely put an emphasis on art and play therapy, allowing your child to express themselves in a way that is natural for them.

Be sure to ask as many questions as necessary to select a therapist you feel comfortable with, and speak openly with your child about treatment so they can know what to expect.

If you believe your child may benefit from therapy and would like to speak about treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to see how I may help.Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

4 Everyday Exercises to Manage Your Anger

Unless you’re a Tibetan monk, surrounded by nothing but other peaceful Tibetan monks, chances are you run into people and events that make you plain ol’ angry sometimes. And that’s okay. Anger is a very common human emotion, and in many instances, it can serve as a compass that guides you to better choices and situations.

For instance, if you feel yourself become angry on more than one occasion at work while interacting with your boss, it may be an indication that you need to learn to communicate your ideas better, not take things personally, or even find a job and work environment that is better suited to your skillset and personality.

But while anger can serve as a guide to some people, to others anger is like an uncontrollable monster. It wreaks havoc on everything it encounters, including personal relationships.

If you are one of those people who find that they get carried away with anger emotions, it’s important that you learn how to manage your feelings and reactions to those feelings. Here are 4 everyday exercises you can do to manage your anger.

1.  Recognize It

Your very first step to control your anger is to recognize when it is creeping up on you. Be honest with yourself and admit that, for whatever reason, you seem to be getting very angry very quickly these days. Pay attention to the events of your life and your reaction. When you feel that feeling coming on, recognize it. What does it feel like? What are some of the triggering events that usually bring it on?

The very act of being aware of the anger in the moment can help dissipate it. When you recognize it, tell your anger, “I control you, you don’t control me.”

2.  Reframe the Situation

When we haven’t slept well, have low blood sugar, or we’re just in a grumpy mood for whatever reason, it’s entirely too easy to see a situation in a way that is not realistic. When you are called to anger, stop and reframe the situation to see if there is a better explanation for a triggering event.

For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic you have two options: You can assume they did it intentionally to p*ss you off, or you can reframe that to come up with a better explanation: it wasn’t intentional, they didn’t see you.

While getting cut off in traffic is never pleasant, you have the ability to rethink the situation so it is less angering. You can reframe any situation that might trigger you. Try it.

3.  Take Deep Breaths

You’ve probably heard countless times that breathing deeply in stressful situations can relax you almost immediately, but have you ever tried it? Slow, deep breaths can have a profound impact on our entire body, relaxing our muscles and slowing our heart rate. Give it a try the next time you feel your anger rising. You will be shocked at how effective deep breathing is.

4.  Visualize

Your imagination is powerful. We knew this as kids, but for some reason puberty seems to have dulled our awareness of this.

As you breathe deeply, visualize a pleasant environment or situation. You could imagine you are back in your grandparent’s house, the smell of gingerbread cookies in the air and the sound of the radiators hissing on a December morning. Or you could imagine you are on a tropical beach. Hear the waves lapping against the white-sand shore… smell the sea breeze and see the palm fronds swaying overhead.

Your consciousness doesn’t know real from imagined situations. As you imagine yourself someplace that is peaceful and happy, your body naturally reacts as if you are actually there and actually peaceful and happy.

These are just some of the exercises you can use to manage your anger. If you still feel overwhelmed by your emotions and you’d like to speak to someone about your anger issues, please contact me. I’d be happy to discuss counseling options with you.

 

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day

Is this a scenario you can relate to?:

You sit down in front of the television or computer with a bag of chips or pint of ice cream intending to eat only one serving, but before you even know what’s happened the entire bag or pint is gone. And you have no real recollection of tasting or even enjoying it. You seem to have eaten the whole thing on autopilot.

This is how many of us eat every meal of every day, without any awareness of the food or how much we eat of it. This is mindless eating, and it is the cause for so much overeating and weight gain in this country.

What is Mindful Eating and How Do I Do It?

Mindful eating is exactly what it sounds like – it is a practice of becoming more aware of what and how much you eat. It is not a fad diet, which are short-sighted approaches to eating, and there are no specific recipes to follow.

Instead, mindful eating is a long-term approach to eating. It’s about forming a relationship with your food, not being controlled by food. When you eat mindfully, you taste and savor each and every bite.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, here are 4 ways you can begin practicing mindful eating every day:

1.  In Sight – In Mind

You know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Well the opposite is also true – the food we see we tend to want to eat. If you have boxes of cookies and donuts on your kitchen counter, you are going to grab one (or more) when you pass by because your blood sugar is low, and you need energy. You’ll have an entire donut eaten before you even realize you ate it.

Your mindfulness must start in the grocery store. Stop buying unhealthy foods laden with salt and sugar, and opt for healthier foods and snacks like fresh produce and nuts. Strategically place these healthy options around your home and kitchen so you can’t help but see them first the next time you reach for something to eat.

2.  Stop Multitasking

How often do you just eat and only eat? Stop eating in front of the television, and stop eating at your computer. And if you absolutely must work through your lunch break, try alternating between tasks so you can focus on one entirely at a time.

For instance, focus on writing and sending that email, then switch tasks and spend a full minute or two on eating your lunch, savoring each bite. Then switch to another task, and back to eating and so on.

3.  Slow Down

Unless you’ve entered a pie-eating contest, there’s no rush. Too many of us wolf down our food, then wonder why we feel so sick. Pace yourself. In your mind as you chew, repeatedly tell yourself to slow down. Eventually slow, purposeful eating will become an ingrained habit, but in the beginning you need to train yourself.

4.  Gauge Your Hunger

How hungry are you when you begin to eat? Are you even hungry at all, or are you eating as an emotional response to something?

Before you dive into that large pizza with the works, gauge your real hunger level. On a scale of 1-10, if your hunger is a 3, one slice should suffice. If you’re not hungry but in a bad mood because the boss is making you stay late, don’t eat the pizza. Instead, lift your mood with a non-food treat like a funny Youtube video you know you like or by mentally planning out all the enjoyable things you’re going to do after you get out of work.

Simple. Not easy, per se, but it will become easier with practice.

Try to incorporate these tips into your everyday life. You will be surprised how mindful eating can change your entire life, from the size clothes you wear, to your health, to how in control you feel in other areas of your life.

If your mindful journey helps you to uncover certain food or emotional issues you’d like to explore further, please contact me. I have worked with many people who have food addictions or use food as an emotional response and I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you.