ME-CL1: Mindful Eating-Conscious Living:
A Foundational Professional Training

The intersection of mindfulness, eating and our relationship to food is the focus of this professional training. Inherent within that juncture are the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that impact how we relate to food and our body in skillful and unskillful ways. The training emphasizes experiential engagement in mindfulness meditation practices and mindful eating awareness exercises, so that the participant will be able to pass the benefit of these exercises on to clients and patients in a variety of settings. These practices and exercises are integral components of the eight-session Mindful Eating Program Manual- Teacher’s Guide, designed by Bays and Wilkins, which provides the organizing structure from this training. Every participant will receive a copy of the Teacher’s Guide.

Jan Chozen Bays in the Great Vow Monastery Garden

ME-CL1 provides professionals with a curriculum from which participants will explore and teach core aspects of mindful eating. Mindfulness can deepen through the exploration of our relationship to eating and food and provide an opportunity to see more clearly the connection of body, mind and heart. By bringing awareness to and through the senses we can become more mindful of how, when, where, what and why we eat. Participants will explore the joys and sorrows held in eating and food, the disconnects and communions, and the aversions and desires- all of which can be opportunities that facilitate moving toward a healthier relationship with food, emotions and the physical body.

This training will support and enhance the attendee’s personal meditation practice which is the essential foundation for teaching mindful eating. It will provide practical ways of integrating mindfulness and mindful eating in working with patients, individually or in groups. The program draws from Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), current research, and the instructors’ combined 40 years of experience working in public and clinical settings with a wide range of people with distressed eating patterns.

The program will be led by experienced clinicians, mindfulness teachers and retreat leaders, Jan Chozen Bays, MD and Char Wilkins, LCSW. It offers participants an opportunity to explore the implications, personally and professionally, of assimilating mindfulness practices and mindful eating skills into their professional work.  Since a personal practice is held to be the foundation from which to deliver mindfulness skills in the clinical setting, daily meditation practice, mindful movement and a half-day retreat are essential components of the program.

The ME-CL1 training includes didactic instruction, experiential meditation and eating exercises, group inquiry and dialogue, current research, and time for personal reflection. This training offer a multi-faceted approach to mindful eating and is designed to encourage participants to use the eight-session Mindful Eating framework to create an approach that is appropriate to the needs of their population.

After completing the training attendees will be equipped to facilitate the mindful eating program in their setting. Attendees will receive a link and password to all mindful meditations directly related to the curriculum and relevant handouts, all to be used with the Teacher’s Guide.

Registration will be limited for this intensive program/retreat in order to cultivate an intimate, personal and highly interactive training environment.

At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • demonstrate delivery of a range of eating awareness practices
  • facilitate the eight-session Mindful Eating program in their setting, adapting it to their clientele.
  • articulate the pivotal importance of mindful inquiry and investigation in teaching mindful eating practices
  • appreciate and understand their own unique qualifications, strengths and weaknesses in regards to facilitating mindfulness and mindful eating in their work
  • develop or deepen their own mindfulness meditation and mindful eating practices and understand the impact and importance of these personal practices in the successful delivery of the curriculum
  • articulate habituated patterns of mind, emotions and body sensations related to eating behaviors

Target Audience 
This 5-day intensive, experiential program is intended for professionals wishing to incorporate mindful eating and supportive mindfulness-related practices in their one-on-one clinical practice and/or into group work in which eating, food and body are aspects or the central focus. The program was designed for clinicians in mental health or healthcare fields and clinicians-in-training in these fields.
This program is also relevant for therapists and counselors who do not specialize in eating-related disorders. Eating and food are unique gateways to self-awareness and understanding for those who experience anxiety, depression, abuse, stress and/or illness.

Participant Guidelines 
It is our experience that successful delivery of mindfulness-based facilitation requires facilitators to have a commitment to an ongoing, daily mindfulness meditation practice. To this end we have created recommendations for acceptance to this training.

  • Advanced degree in mental health-related field (e.g., psychology, social work or counseling) or currently enrolled in graduate training toward licensure.  It is not expected or necessary to be an eating disorders specialist.
  • Or advanced degree in health care field (e.g. dietician, RN, APRN, PA, physician, psychiatrist) or currently enrolled in graduate training toward licensure. Appropriate for those working with, but not limited to, bariatric surgeries, weight management, diabetes, eating disorders.
  • Or a professional degree in ecology, biology or food technology science
  • Attendance at an Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive (MBCT) or Mindful Eating-Conscious Living (ME-CL) program as a participant
  • A personal commitment to an ongoing daily meditation practice
  • A mindful movement practice such as Yoga, Taijiquan or Qigong
  • Added value: Attendance at formal meditation retreats or formal meditation trainings

Program Format
Based upon the foundational assumption that the only true teaching of mindfulness comes out of regular and systematic personal practice, this 5-day training is steeped in mindfulness practice.
Early morning and evening practice sessions are a crucial component of the training itself and will include a variety of mindfulness practices including sitting meditation, mindful movement, and mindful walking and body meditations.  Selected meals will be taken in silence, some being designated as mindful eating practice sessions. Several evenings will include silence from the conclusion of evening practice until breakfast the next morning, and a half-day guided retreat will be provided.

Retreat Setting, Accommodations and Self-Care
The choice of a quiet retreat setting is intentional to facilitate mindfulness practice, reduce outside distractions and create a safe and productive holding environment for the unfolding of the work and the group.

The training/retreat setting is an ideal place to integrate the ME-CL1 training and to promote connectedness among the participants. The training is intended to be a protected forum for facilitating experiential learning, group cohesion and dynamics, and deep abiding attention to self-care and compassion.

The rooms are clean and pleasant, and adequate but minimalistic, to encourage focused attention to the work itself.

Meals are prepared and presented with deep intention to be healthful and nourishing by staff that is sensitive to the intention of the setting and the needs of the participants.

Breaks will be provided to allow for participants to walk, hike, run or explore the surrounding environment as a means of supporting the sometimes challenging work itself and to facilitate self-care.

Needs Assessment
The utilization of mindful eating in a clinical context is a burgeoning area of study and practice in the mental health and healthcare fields. The number of research articles, books and popular press articles on the topic is growing exponentially and the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year.
To help meet that need, ME-CL 1 has been offered through the MeNu (Centre for Mindful Eating and Nutrition), Belgium; Mindful Eating; Mexico, Nirakara, Spain; Dr. Jackie Doyle, UK; ROS (Counsel on Eating Disorders), Norway; and the  Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute, University of California at San Diego, USA.


Recommended Reading

  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (revised edition 2018) by Jan Chozen Bays
  • Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
  • The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker Palmer
  • Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship Edited by Steven Hick & Thomas Bien
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being by Daniel Siegel


Suggested Reading

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Zen of Eating by Ronna Kabatznick
  • Art of the Inner Meal by Donald Altman
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.
  • Eating the Moment  by Pavel Somov
  • Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers
  • Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine by Saki Santorelli



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