Mindfulness and Emotional Eating

Overeating or eating unhealthy processed foods leaves our bodies feeling unhealthy and fatigued, but we do it anyway.  In reality, these eating habits often numb or distance us from what lies beneath.  So how do we address this habitual pattern that impacts our health and happiness?

In my last newsletter, I compared the concepts of mindlessness vs. mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness is focusing on observing what is going on when we eat even though we are not hungry. The essence of mindful practice is to love those parts of ourselves that we think we don’t like or reject. This is where the healing process starts.   Loving ourselves requires new skills to deal with the challenges we face in daily life that shape our emotional eating habits.  These habits are often affected by other issues such as anger or resentment or relationship issues.  In order to give a voice to these feelings, we must explore what is behind these thoughts rather than unconsciously reacting with food. 

When we tap into our strengths such as our inherent curiosity, we are able to explore what is really going on with our inner experiences. We can claim those parts of ourselves that seek to be kind, compassionate and free from fear.

As you explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery, you will learn new approaches how to manage your emotional food triggers. My individualized support for each client draws upon current research in neuroscience, existential theories and practices with cognitive and mindfulness-based approaches.

Nova Wellness Counseling

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych.

Office: 206-733-0349   Email: aliceanneNWC@live.com


Listening to Ourselves

I decided this weekend to enjoy a wonderful cup of tea at an outdoor cafe in Ballard.  As I sat enjoying each sip, I watched the colorfully dressed people walking while texting on their smartphones, completely immersed and oblivious to their surroundings.  I wondered how they could coordinate walking and texting without tripping on the weathered sidewalks.  Was this being “mind – full”? Which brings me to my next story.

As I drove home, I stopped momentarily at a light and observed an incident which left an indelible memory about true mindful practice.  I watched a blind woman walk on a broken sidewalk with her guide dog at her side.  I noticed the blind woman was about to trip over a six inch raised surface on one side of the sidewalk. I realized that I had moments to warn her.  But in seconds, her faithful old guide dog stepped in and assuredly pushed her body over to a place of safety. It occurred to me the dog was being present and mindful of each step.

The example of the watchful dog protecting the blind woman holds a powerful message for us. Rather than texting or being distracted from what’s around us while walking, the dog was watchful and present, protecting what was valuable. The aging dog was faithful to his task at hand, without being distracted by extraneous stress that is the product of our fears.  Irene Claremont de Castillejo said that emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body.

So how does this relate to our ability to transform our relationship with food?  We can begin to deliberately listen to what our true needs are, and find new ways to fulfill them. Our relationship with food is an extension of how we live our lives. Yet, when we get stuck in impulsive eating patterns, we can instead become more watchful with our inner guide like the helpful, loving dog.

In my last blog, I wrote about ways to move beyond our eating patterns that have become “ritual-habitual” or “unconscious food habits” in response to stress and anxiety.  As we deepen our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with our food, we start by paying attention to what we are feeling.

At Nova Wellness Counseling in Shoreline, together we explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery.  Build your self-esteem and know yourself.  Be mindful and compassionate.  Start by learning to prioritize the most important area of your life: taking care of yourself.

Office: 938 200th Street, Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 733-0349




Moving Beyond Our Unconscious Food Habits

How can we move beyond our eating patterns that have become “ritual-habitual” or “unconscious food habits” in response to stress and anxiety? 

We all experience emotional states of stress or anxiety. It’s important to understand that in these states, our brain doesn’t function in the same way as it does when we are calm. This affects our decision-making which may result in overeating, feeling shame, and trying to regulate food.

On a physical level, when we get angry, our energy levels plummet. We feel tired and worn down from the anger. Our emotional and physical discomfort has us wanting food for comfort. Yet are we truly hungry?

A useful tool for some people is to remember the acronym, H.A.L.T. Take a moment and remind yourself. Do I feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?  Pause, and take mental note which of these factors are present. You can do a self-inventory or check before you make a choice to eat when you are not hungry.     At Nova Wellness Counseling in Shoreline, together we explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery. It starts by learning to prioritize the most important area of your life: taking care of yourself.

Our internal environment doesn’t always support us. In counseling, you will receive the support you need to be inspired and motivated to make positive changes. This means to build upon the strengths you already have. My focus is finding the positive attributes within each of us, rather than labeling and condemning a list of “problems” that need to be “fixed”. 

My work is inspired by approaches that support your potential and that empower you. Our relationship with food affects our ability to have more physical energy, and nurture our body, mind and spirit. We don’t need to be “fixed”—we need to flourish to become flexible and willing to be and act in accordance with our chosen values.     

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych.

Office: (206) 733-0349



The Psychology of Eating

Getting in Touch with Simplicity 

At Nova Wellness Counseling, I work with helping clients to better understand both the biochemical and emotional factors for natural weight loss. Have you ever asked yourself how you feel after you eat a meal? Do you feel tired or energized? What we eat, when we eat, and how we eat plays a major role with how we digest our food, and how we feel after our meals. By expanding the definition of nourishment, we can gain a broader perspective to explore and embrace new possibilities.

What makes you smile? Laugh? For some, it’s a walk in the park.  Or a bike ride. Maybe it’s gazing up at the sky to see the stars.  For another, it’s going to a new feature film.

What’s the importance of allowing play time to be included in our busy lifestyles?

If it’s been awhile, you may want to consider how happiness lowers your stress levels, helps to increase your immune system, and lowers your risk of disease. Play time also makes life easier.

Simple Daily Pleasures

Doing one pleasurable event a day (or more!) is one of the most powerful antidotes for boredom or dealing with one of those stressful days at your office.

Try this…

  • Create a list of everything that you enjoy.
  • Take note at how you spend your days by asking yourself right now “When could I fit in a little pleasure for myself? Perhaps you could leave the office at lunch time and take a short brisk walk in the sunshine. Or play your favorite music and dance around the kitchen when you are cooking dinner tonight. You might even book yourself a massage for this weekend.

“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf”.

Rabindranath Tagore

How can YOU eat just One…?

At Nova Wellness Counseling, I work with clients to help them better understand both the biochemical and emotional factors affecting natural weight loss.  By expanding the definition of nourishment, we can also gain a broader perspective about overeating.

There are three types of overeating:  The emotional type is about fear, anger and anxiety. The environmental type is triggered by the sight or smell of food. And restraint eating relates to overeating after dieting.

It’s hard to self-regulate eating when stress is a part of daily life.  Food fills the empty spaces created by discomforts such as boredom or loneliness, and it is also used for reward and celebration.  Yet how do we make the right choices to love ourselves first in ways that support our health and well-being?

First of all, don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with stress and overeating.  Often what we are truly reaching for is to feel loved and valued.

An act of self-love is to learn new skills to deal with the challenges we face in daily life that shape our emotional eating habits.  First, accept where you are without judgment. This makes it possible to develop self-control to have the ability to make your own choices.

In my work with clients, we explore ways to nourish and heal those emotions and fears that have kept us from moving forward.  Choosing foods that have nutritional value is only part of that exploration.  Shifting your attitude from critical judgment to acceptance requires allowing your inner wisdom to emerge.

The key is learning how to think for your own body type, and learning to listen to your body.  The only prerequisite is being willing to embrace your true potential.

I’d enjoy working with you!

Alice Anne

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych., C.C., H.H.P

Office: 206-733-0349

Email: AliceAnneNWC@live.com



Loving Contracts with Ourselves

It’s not just about eating different foodsit’s thinking about food differently

Helping hands and heart for natural weight loss from Nova Wellness Counseling Seattle WA

The common definition of food is limiting when we view food as the only form of nourishment. By expanding the definition of nourishment, we can gain a broader perspective to explore and embrace new possibilities. Most of us have accepted that eating healthy foods provides our bodies with the physical nourishment needed to promote a healthy lifestyle.

How do self-criticism and self-judgment impact our weight loss efforts?

Self-criticism seems to tiptoe into our minds when we are trying to lose weight. For example, you critique yourself after eating that piece of cake with ice cream, or dining out somewhere and eating a large portion of pasta. You then critically assess your inability to stick to a plan to reach your weight loss goals. You might feel a sense of failure, frustration, anger, and poor self-esteem. Despite the inevitable aftermath of thoughts of regret, when eating “forbidden foods” we do so to distance ourselves from feeling pain or discomfort, which is only natural, right? Yet how we feel affects our ability (or inability) to lose weight.

When I work with clients, I find that just the thought of being able to make their own food choices empowers them. “Hmm… you mean I can eat the foods I want, when I want, and how much I want?” The answers are “Yes, yes, yes”. However, this doesn’t mean there are no consequences to your actions. What I am referring to is allowing yourself to make personal choices without guilt, fear or recrimination. Self-judgment takes the back seat when you are the driver–when you can take back the power to fully participate in your life.

In my practice at Nova Wellness Counseling, change starts with becoming actively engaged with ourselves, our choice-making, and loving “who we are” and “where we are”. This is the foundation that supports the process of making a loving contract with ourselves and our life to facilitate positive change.

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych., C.C., H.H.P.