Mindful Eating … What does that mean?

We have been highlighting our Mastermind program that we are going to have at the Miraval in Tucson from July 23-27. Once a month Michael Tompkins, the visionary CEO of Miraval, has been joining us to talk about Miraval and introduce some of the highly skilled experts on the staff who will bring you a variety of information, knowledge and skills around mindfulness, and will be available during the Mastermind progLupiani, Junelleram.

One of Miraval’s experts is Junelle Lupiani who is a registered dietitian. She specializes in weight management and the integration of nutrition in disease prevention. Junelle believes that nutrition is a fundamental building block to good health and wellbeing. She provides practical strategies to individualize your weight loss. She works with clients to set attainable and achievable goals as they learn how to transcend the enticement of  fad dieting and unhealthy weight management.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We usually start off with a little bit about your background and like to find out about some of the people who have influenced you. Tell us a little bit about your background.

Junelle Lupiani: As you stated, I’m a registered dietitian and that just means for everyday concept around it, I specialize in nutrition and eating for optimal health. I’ve been at Miraval for 6 years now. It’s a great place to be. I’ve centered my professional life around nutrition and spent some time doing cancer research in the clinical field. I’ve worked as well with critical care, and I’m also a sports dietitian, so I work with a lot of lead athletes, and that’s a real interesting group of people who rely on peak performance and optimal nutrition for their sport of choice. So that’s a cool part of my field.

I believe in eating well to optimize your health long-term. A lot of people who have influenced me are people who recognize that it’s a different time and we need to be more progressive with our thoughts around food. These are people like Michael Pollan, he is a huge influence for me. A guy named Walt Willett who heads Epidemiology out of Harvard who really talks poignantly about what we need to focus on food and with our planet today and the amount of people on it, how we need to consider how we are eating. Andrew Weil, who I have personally worked with for a while now, who started the Andrew Weil Integrated Medical Center at Miraval, so he has been a big influence for me as well. He focuses on eating right and how to focus on an anti inflammatory diet which is a big part of what I do.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Being a registered dietitian involves a rigorous background, can you talk a little bit about where you did your internship? The other side of this is that anybody can call themselves a nutritionist, but probably don’t have the background that you have. Can you say a little bit about the kind of training which separates you from someone who doesn’t have the background and calls themselves a nutritionist?

Junelle Lupiani: It’s important to recognize who you are working with and whether or not the person is credentialed. Nutrition is a progressive science. With any medical profession, not only do you need the education, schooling, and to get your Masters if you choose to do so, but as a registered dietitian you are required to complete continuing education like most medical disciplines. Part of that is a certain amount of hours that are spent every 5 years to make sure that you are staying up to date within the field. Again, it’s a progressive science so it’s important not only to go to college , but then to get into an internship. I actually did an internship here in Arizona with an organization, it was about a year long and it was wonderful because you get to experience all of those arenas like I said, so for me, wellness was the arena that I felt best in.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity at Miraval come available. Of course I jumped on it and I really have enjoyed the wellness arena very much.

Dr. Relly Nadler: What is good about this year internship it that I’m sure you are supervised and you are basically learning your craft. I’m a master certified coach, and it’s the same kind of deal. Anybody can call themselves a coach, but not everybody goes through the rigor and  thejumping through hoops that you have to do to gather these different certifications.

Junelle Lupiani: Yes, I’m really glad that you got that out because not a lot of people make that distinction and it’s important. If you’re thinking of having someone help you out in terms of your nutrition, you want to make sure that they are qualified.

Dr. Relly Nadler: One of the things that you work with is to help people create an anti-inflammatory diet. What is that and why is it important?

Junelle Lupiani: We are learning about the human body and the fact that we are made up of trillions of cells, about long term diseases and that the older we get the risk of developing them is higher. There is a relationship between all of them and a relationship between the health of your heart and how it affects your brain function in later years, your vessels and certain types of cancer. The way that we know that we can prevent these cancers is the same way that we take care of our heart and take of our eyes—Macular degeneration—all of these diseases that we know that the older we get the higher we are at risk of developing, are inflammatory diseases.

I understand that the word anti inflammatory gets a lot of media attention these days. With more attention, often times, really comes misinformation. An anti inflammatory diet is not necessarily about waking up in the morning and not having puffy eyes. It’s really how it affects us long term and how, not just how long we live, but optimizing our health so that the quality is reached not just quantity in terms of the time we spend on this planet.

I believe, as you stated, in eating right for optimizing our health which really ties in the old belief in the anti inflammatory dieting. I use the word diet there, but again, my use of words when it comes to diet is just how we eat every day. The way that we select our breakfast and the energy that goes into where we are getting out lunch. Just our entire days intake would be what I mean when I use the word diet.

The idea of an anti inflammatory diet is pretty simple. Conceptually it’s a little difficult or maybe time consuming to be put into practice, but that is what I like to remind people. I know every day I talk with people who are genuinely busy people who maybe have felt that they don’t have a lot of time to spend with their food. The thing about food is, it’s essential for existence. For whatever reason, as a society, we have taken a few things that are essential for how we perform in our professional lives, essential needs like nutrition, and we have really put them low on the list of priorities. I really like to not just educate people on what to eat, but how you need to make food a centerpiece if you hope to perform day to day.

The basic idea behind an anti inflammatory diet is that you eat mostly plants. I think as a nation we sort of look at those as an inconvenient food. Maybe take a little more effort than we are willing to invest, but the long term benefits are very clear. Without even making it complicated in talking about these small molecules within plants that are beneficial, you just create a plant based diet.

Take fruit for example. If you just say well, berries—it’s undeniable that these particular plants have a whole lot of benefit. If you can commit to saying: before I leave the house in the morning I’m going to consume half a cup to one cup. Then wherever you keep your briefcase and you keep your keys because you have a spot where you put them so that you can be organized and out of the house in time, also put a fruit bowl there and bring with you two pieces of portable fruit. If you can just establish that pattern, because us humans are super habitualistic in ritual, if we can just grab a couple of pieces of portable fruit every day. The fact of the matter is, most of us are busy, we are at work, doing our work throughout the day. Four o’clock, as human beings, we are hungry, and that’s all there is to it. So if there is something else that is maybe not the healthiest choice, we are going to choose it. But if we have with us something so that we can say, well maybe I’ll go for my two pieces of portable fruit now, it’s much better.

Again, you want to just get as much exposure to those small molecules that are within plants that we know that are super protective, not just long term, but they help us pay attention better every day. A huge decision we have to make every day, multiple times, is should I eat that? You just have got to be well equipped to answer the question, should I eat that. If you are not in a good spot, whether it be blood sugar, or you are tired, or whatever the reason, you are going to be more inclined to make not such a great decision. So you want to eat right knowing that a big reason for eating right is you are going to have to decide what you are going to eat many times that day.

You see what I am saying there? It’s kind of a funny thing to consider. I recently read a study that the average American has to decide whether or not they should eat something, through advertising, billboards, TV, radio; 200 times a day we are actually making that decision; should I eat that? Do I eat that?

Dr. Relly Nadler: So say a little bit more about  inflammation. If we are trying to be anti inflammatory, what is it about the inflammation around our organs and stuff, that we are trying to eliminate?

Junelle Lupiani: The idea here is knowing that you have warranted inflammation. For example, you stub your toe. It’s going to get hot, it’s going to get red, and that is warranted inflammation, that is part of the healing process. So you’ll never eliminate all inflammatory response, in fact, it’s essential for healing. But what we are concentrating on is the unwarranted inflammation. If you imagine yourself: you are made up of trillions of cells and each cell has the potential to be either pro inflammatory or anti inflammatory. If you just imagine these trillions of cells each deciding whether or not it’s going to be in an anti inflammatory or pro inflammatory state. When we have more cells, the majority of these cells, for example the chronic, systemic, unwarranted inflammation, we know it’s an underlying cause of age related memory loss; Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, or Heart Disease. The long term affects of our heart related to heart disease is all of the vessels within our body. These vessels that deliver blood to every cell, you want to keep those healthy. That is why being in an anti inflammatory state, that chronic, systemic, whole body inflammatory state, you want to keep it regulated. There are things that we don’t have control over, right? Sometimes people get stuck there, like genetic predisposition. Or, how old we are. Chronologically we are aging so that conflict of anti aging, as wonderful as it sounds, it’s just not the way it’s going. So excepting these variables that we don’t have control over but saying wait, there’s things in my life that I have control over.

So when we think of what keeps us less inflamed, when it comes to that unwarranted chronic inflammatory response, are you moving your body? Do you have an exercise regimen, weekly, that you practice. Are you getting not just the quantity, but the quality of sleep that is essential to regulate. You look at sleeping as almost like resetting ourselves, it regulates and balances out all of those hormones that come in flux every day. The hormones involved with appetite, stress—a good night sleep, where the quality and the quantity is there, is going to help you decompress and level out stress hormones.

Also the stress response is a big part of our lifestyle. You can take a person who is in a stressful situation, their career, high-powered business people; they are confronted with stress. However, it doesn’t need to make them a stressed person; differentiating and understanding that a person can be in any environment. Again, bringing up the fact that I work with a lot of pro athletes, it’s a great example of a person who uses stress in a positive way. They say, I’m stressed out and it is going to help maximize me. So a lot of our perceptions around stress influence us.

The idea that if you are in a stressful situation, you are stressed out, it is not so.  Then for the food we eat; so you’ve got the exercise, the sleep, stress response and then nutrition. These are variables in our life, lifestyle factors that we have control over. They play a huge role in the health of our bodies long term. So when I work with people it’s not getting stuck on the fact that we are all aging, or the fact that we are genetically predisposed to say heart disease. It’s saying, what are the things that we can control and accepting the fact that time is finite, so every day we have the same amount but taking these things that are essential for our health and carving out the time and prioritizing.

Dr. Relly Nadler:  What can we expect as some of the workshops you do, and then if people wanted individual attention, what would that look like?

Junelle Lupiani: I do a few classes, a couple of workshops, and then I have hours set aside every day for people that come that want to spend their own time with me, where we can really hash out and develop their own personalized plan.

I will begin with what is my fundamental class, if you will, it’s mindful eating. What we do is we have a breakfast and I incorporate the concept of mindfulness, and I use a nice workable definition around mindfulness, which is paying attention. I help people see how they can apply mindfulness to the act of eating. We work through accepting the fact that we are never going to get more time every day, but eating correctly, really exponentially, can increase our energy level. We talk about how in day-to-day life we can eat correctly and carve out time for it.

I think, inherently, most people know how to eat right. So, for example, if I had a big pile of food and I said, okay, let’s break this into two piles; a healthy pile and not so healthy pile. We know this stuff, and we know that eating mostly plants is the ticket. We know that we want to eat our food clean and make sure that it’s got minimal processing or better yet, minimal manipulation occurring. We want to have more plant fats than animal fats. We want to recognize these things but we often times, because we are conditioned to think that food has got to be convenient and we don’t want to spend a lot of time with it, that’s really what people struggle with; recognizing that they have got a general idea, or better than general. We really have an inherent knowledge around eating right, it’s just getting us to recognize where the barriers are. That is in my individual work with people. It’s not always the case that we are talking about what eating right looks like, we are talking about what barriers do people face and why are they unable to eat correctly.

I really work in behavior modification and behavior change when I do the continuing education that is necessary, it’s what I focus on. I work with highly educated people who are driven, and they are smart and knowledgeable people, but usually what limits them is the time that they have. Really, time is linear; when you think about that daily time thing that gets in the way.

Should you go wheat free? Is Gluten bad for you? Is rice causing problems for me? Should you eat carbs and if so, what kind? Learn how much vegetables and fruit you should eat a day, and some ideas for a very healthy breakfast. Find out about some of the programs that will be available to you if you join us for our Mastermind at the Miraval. Junelle will be a part of it as will other experts at Miraval. We’ll be bringing in Mirabai Bush and Marshal Goldsmith as well. Find out about our Mastermind at the Miraval happening July 23 – 27. Listen to the complete recording of our discussion, without commercials, above.


Leave a Reply