Eating right and healthy, and happy living are all a matter of mindful thinking, said local mindful eating expert and author Dr. Michelle May.

May was a family physician in Ahwatukee Foothills for years. In all of her time practicing, she developed a program, called “Am I Hungry,” that teaches the importance of mindful eating. At first it was meant to help with weight and be a more effective and permanent tool than dieting, but May said she has realized mindful thinking is good for so much more than eating.

“A good way of understanding it is when we’re mindless or in habit, we have these triggers and they’re immediately followed by a response,” May said. “It’s just like Pavlov’s dogs. When we’re in that mindless, habitual, unconscious behavior we have a trigger and we react unconsciously to that trigger. When we react we re-act out the past over and over again. As a result we get the same results whether it’s an argument with your spouse, a bowl of candy, or getting frustrated in traffic. It doesn’t matter what the trigger is. When we’re mindless and unconscious we react and get the same results.”

May said mindfulness allows for a pause before reacting. In the case of food the person should ask themselves “Am I Hungry?”

It’s not easy to change old habits.

“We have these deeply ingrained neurological pathways,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to change a behavior you’re not aware of… A lot of people try to change behaviors by changing actions. For example, dieting is an action. It doesn’t really work because it doesn’t address the thoughts and feelings that cause the actions in the first place. It works temporarily but it takes a lot of motivation, energy and focus to change actions indefinitely. You’ll ultimately fall back into old behavior patterns. The power of mindfulness is it helps realize the thoughts and feelings that lead to the action. In other words, you’re changing the root cause of your actions.”

May will give a guided mindful eating experience at an Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, March 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Arizona Grand Resort, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway.

The luncheon and expo will bring together many local health and wellness experts to give guests all the resources needed to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. Vendors like New Paths to Healthcare, Eye Priority, SkinFit, Elements Therapeutic Massage, Orange Theory, Arizona Family Hypnosis, Akea Health Essentials, Dental Group of Ahwatukee, South Mountain Nutrition, My Fit Foods and many more will be on hand. Live demonstrations will include guided meditation, Hot Yoga, Zumba, massage and weight loss hypnosis. May will be the featured speaker at the event.

“My hope is that people will come away understanding how mindfulness can impact all areas of their life, not just their eating but their family life, their relationships, their work,” May said. “It’s such a powerful tool. Once people learn how to do it they learn it just changes their experience completely.”

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit ahwatukeechamber.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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