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Things I learnt about mindfulness, non-diet approach in Byron Bay

Last week I spent five days in Byron Bay for a professional development conference (and an excuse for a break of course) learning about the non-diet approach and mindful eating. Working with people who struggle with their weight and the teenage ballet dancers , I thought these skills and knowledge will come in handy. And in fact, everybody including myself can benefit from practicing mindfulness let it be mindful eating, mindful living, mindful money management etc…

I had a little bit of an idea what mindfulness is: being in the moment, be present etc.. but you know what, it actually takes a lot of practice to get there. I thought I knew but I realised I have so much more to learn.

Let’s get into non-diet approach and we will come back to mindfulness in general a bit later.

My definition and understanding of the non-diet approach is that NDA explore why we do what we do. Compared to the traditional dietetics model, NDA is client driven, holistic, deals with the underlying causes and to empower clients to build a good relationship with food as compared to the traditional approach where it is more structured, prescriptive and solely focuses on food, nutrients and weight. The NDA is about dropping the guilt and food rules and be non-judgement to self in any food choices.

Mindful eating plays a big part in NDA. It is a conscious way of eating, a skill to learn to be more present at meal times and be free about making food decisions as we offer ourselves choices by slowing down instead of autopilot (or mindlessness).

Learning about the NDA gave me another tool to help my clients. I must admit it might not work for all but by incorporating the skills in my consultation, I can empower my clients to embrace their body, enjoy food and look after themselves better.

Now, mindfulness… this is Google’s definition: mindfulness is defined as moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, characterized mainly by “acceptance” – attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong. Acceptance here is not referring to ‘when things goes south, that’s just what it is’ or victimization.  One thing I learnt about acceptance is accepting the fact that nothing is permanent whether it is good or bad. It’s the willingness to sit on the edge between comfort and discomfort and breathe through it.

Fern, our yoga teacher at the retreat introduced us to a new term Ahimsa – a term meaning ‘not to injure’ and ‘compassion’. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm. No harm to self, no harm to others.

We live in a hectic world and disconnection is the word that comes to mind. We are so busy that we are disconnected with the environment, disconnected between people and most importantly, disconnect with ourselves. Have we lost the ability to be in tuned with our bodies and our feelings and let our behaviors to be controlled by the media or an ideal? Or are we blaming too much? Are we kind to each other? And are we kind to ourselves?

Now, life in Byron Bay…

My daily coffee fix – The Top Shop Cafe beautiful organic and local produce. I got a burger salad as my lunch to eat in the airport on my last day. I think it was a Mexican bean burger.. omg it was delish!!

Folk

Gorgeous lunch we had after the girls went to the lighthouse and me doing some shopping.

The Farm

My kind of must visit activity. Looking through the shops, learning about the animals and breathing refreshing air.

Can’t thank dietitian Fiona Sutherland enough for providing a safe space for everyone to learn, have fun and build new friendships. To my new friends Ali, Alex, Janine, Tahnia, Felicity, Alecia and Emily, hope you brought back knowledge home and to the world as much as I did. #gratitude😉