What is Mindful Nutrition?

Mindfulness is the simple act of noticing, without judgment, your thoughts, body sensations and emotions in the moment.  A mindful approach to eating can help us better connect to body sensations of hunger, fullness, cravings and emotion.  With a better connection to our body, we can naturally find the right quantity and combination of food to support our own unique needs. 

Mindful Nutrition can help reduce overeating, improve digestion, satisfy cravings and help us feel energized to perform at our best each day.    In addition, understanding our thought patterns related to food can provide important insights into our relationship with food and how that may drive our daily habits.  For example; someone who is trying to follow a diet may believe they have to be strict and self-critical in order to be successful.  Research has shown that a more compassionate and mindful approach to eating increases body satisfaction reduces disordered eating and helps to maintain a healthy weight over the long term. Another name for this is Intuitive Eating.

Intuitive eating allows you to eat what you want, when you want, in quantities that satisfy your hunger, while fully enjoying the experience of eating without feeling guilt or shame.  

If you are allowed to eat whatever you want, won’t you just eat cookies and chips all the time? This is a common misconception.  Research shows that when people give themselves full permission to eat whatever they want with the intention of caring for their bodies, they instinctively choose foods that make them feel good over the long run.  Of course, it takes practice and support to keep your home stocked with balanced, nutritious foods that taste good and make you feel energized.   A Dietitian can support you in setting up these new habits.  With a solid foundation of nutritious meals and snacks, there’s always room to mindfully enjoy your favourite treats like cookies or chips. All foods can fit.  

There are two key elements of mindfulness:

1. Observation without judgement and

2. Compassion. These two principles are the foundations of the mindful approach to nutrition. Our food choices are very personal and in today’s society you’ll find all kinds of judgments about not eating ‘junk food’, ‘eating clean’ and trying to control our ‘urges’.  It’s hard not to absorb all this judgement and negativity about our eating habits. 

In the mindful nutrition approach, there will be no ‘shoulding’, shaming or strict rules. Instead, we’ll approach your current habits with curiosity and compassion. Many times, our habits have emerged as a way to cope with challenging life situations. By bringing forward a compassionate awareness we can accept where we are starting, uncover the roots of our behaviours and continually adjust and strengthen habits that make us feel great.

The world of nutrition can be confusing in today’s day and age.  There seems to be a constant stream of conflicting messages and confusing advice about how to eat:  Is fat good or bad? Should I eat low-carb or more whole grains?  Is it good to try intermittent fasting or is breakfast the most important meal of the day?  The list goes on…   Dietitians are your trusted source of nutrition information.   They will help you debunk myths and find research-based solutions to your health concerns. 

Dietitians are highly trained regulated health professionals.  They hold an honours degree in Human Nutrition and they are mentored through a Dietetic Internship process.  In contrast, anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist.   Look for the title RD, Registered Dietitian, to ensure you are getting the highest level of care.   In addition, many benefit plans have coverage for Registered Dietitians.  Check your plan for details. 

  • Mindful Eating/Intuitive Eating
  • Healthy eating checkup
  • Increasing body awareness
  • Increasing energy/focus
  • Managing cravings
  • Supporting a healthy relationship with food
  • Managing emotional eating
  • Understanding blocks to motivation/change
  • Improving self-care/self-compassion
  • Changes in weight/body composition
  • Support for disordered eating
  • Improving exercise performance/Sports Nutrition
  • Improving digestion; bloating, constipation, diarrhea
  • Meal planning/Food Ideas
  • Finding balance for plant-based eating
  • Nutrition education for children/teens
  • Pre-post natal nutrition
  • Nutrition for peri/menopause
  • Nutrition for Bone Health
  • Prevention of nutrient deficiencies (i.e.: iron, B12, Vitamin D etc.)
  • All areas of focus are welcome

Most clients start with 3-6 visits.  Each session is 50 minutes.  In the first session, we will discuss your goals, your challenges, your health history and what you hope to get out of our work together.  The second and third sessions usually are booked within 1-3 weeks depending on your goals. The first 3 consultations are usually focused on “what/when/how much you are eating” as well as learning some mindfulness tools.   During the next 3 visits, we continue to fine-tune body awareness (hunger, fullness, stress…), mindfulness practices, capitalizing on your strengths and understanding emotion to honour what your body needs each day.   We will look at obstacles and patterns that may have been preventing you from reaching your health goals. For those interested we may also explore visualizations, self-compassion practices, mindfulness meditations, SoulCollage®, journaling activities and even dream analysis as a way to better understand your unconscious habits and blocks. These practices can be very effective for raising your awareness and empowering you to break old patterns that may have been preventing your success. 

Booking: Appointment times are currently offered between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesdays.  If these times and dates do not work for your schedule, feel free to reach out to Heidi directly at heidi.smith@eramosaphysio.com.  Currently, all consultations are done using our online video platform which can be very effective and convenient.   Alternatively, you may request a phone consultation instead of using video. 

Other Wellbeing Services: Heidi also offers focused mindfulness consultations, dream analysis and creative exploration through a modality called SoulCollage®.   The fun process of connecting to our unconscious through mindfulness, dreams and collage can be very helpful for uncovering sources of emotional eating and underlying stress.   Check out the full range of services in the booking tab. 

Heidi’s Kitchen Blog: Sign up for an occasional blog post that includes recipe ideas and reflections about mind, body and soul connections.  https://www.heidismithnutrition.com/newsletter-2

SoulCollage® is a fun way of combining images to create a collage that is unique to you and your current state of mind and emotion.   It is a surprisingly straightforward process of just relaxing and letting yourself be drawn to whatever images catch your eye.  The idea is to be playful and not overthink the final product or try to make a ‘work of art’. 

Your SoulCollage® facilitator will support you in quieting your masculine left brain “rational mind” and engage your feminine right brain ‘intuitive mind’ to combine pictures that you are emotionally drawn to. It is a relaxing and fun experience and you end up creating surprisingly meaningful collages. NO ARTISTIC ABILITY REQUIRED.

Why try SoulCollage®?

  • It’s fun! It’s a creative outlet that does not require any artistic talent.  In today’s world of ‘doing’ and ‘being productive’, SoulCollage is a welcome break to simply play and trust the process of being creative. 
  • It’s a mindfulness practice. Simply tuning into the process of creating a collage is a mindful activity.  Noticing your 5 senses as you cut and paste can help you truly rest in the present moment.  Noticing your thoughts and feelings can give you insights into how you approach a new project – What is your inner dialogue as you create a collage? Are you self-critical? How do you deal with time pressure? Do you get easily flustered or do you go into flow?
  • It can provide surprising insights into your inner world. It may seem like you are just playing around and making a meaningless cut-and-paste activity, however, the guided exercises after making the collage can provide valuable insights into your current emotional needs. Most people will report the insights were unexpected and exactly what they needed at the moment.   
  • It can be the beginning of a regular practice of self-connection. Many people love the process and carry on to make many collage cards.   The cards can represent different personal parts and perspectives.  They can act like little placeholders for hopes, dreams and even difficult emotions that you can work with just by looking at the images. The whole process can serve as a beautiful road toward self-understanding and self-compassion. Working with images guides you into the world of the unconscious where you can better understand your shadow sides and your blind spots to live a more conscious life. 
  • It’s a Global Community – SoulCollage® is practiced all around the world in over 50 countries. It was developed by Seena B. Frost a psychotherapist living in California in 1990. It was originally developed with the intention of people gathering in the community to collage together and support one another.  For upcoming group workshops check out Heidi’s website.

What happens in an Individual SoulCollage® Session?

In your first appointment, you will meet with your trained SoulCollage® facilitator Heidi Smith online for a 50-minute session.  You will have a chance to discuss what drew you to the idea of SoulCollage® and share anything you like about your current health or life circumstances.  The process of SoulCollage® will be explained, some instructions to the mindful approach will be given and the activity of making a collage will begin relatively quickly!  Prior to the appointment, you will be encouraged to gather a small assortment of 5-10 images that have caught your attention.  These images could be from magazines or printed from the internet.  Alternatively, the collage can be made digitally by cutting and pasting into a Word document.   After the collage is complete (about 10-15 minutes) there will be time to discuss the process and reflect on any insights that emerged while making the collage.  The final step is to begin a dialoguing/journaling activity that really brings the images you’ve chosen into focus.  The surprising insights begin to flow as the collage is given voice.  To wrap up the session resources will be shared about how to use your collage moving forward and how to make more collages on your own if you wish.  

It is recommended you choose your SoulCollage® time wisely. Look for a time in your schedule when you have some space afterwards to reflect and rest.  It’s often ideal to book the afternoon off if that is possible or plan for a quiet evening.   The SoulCollage® experience can bring forward all sorts of emotions for a few hours or a few days following the experience.  It can help you get in touch with what needs attention and what is truly important for you to live a thriving life.   If the times available in the schedule will not allow for some post-session rest and reflection, feel free to reach out to Heidi for alternative times.  heidi.smith@eramosaphysio.com

*It’s worth noting that while SoulCollage® may be therapeutic, it is not considered therapy and your facilitator Heidi Smith is not a therapist.  If you have a therapist, you may find it helpful to book a follow-up and bring your SoulCollage® cards with you for further support, insight and discussion. 

Mindfulness is a way of gently focusing your attention on the present moment.   With practice, mindfulness can help you tame a busy mind, reduce stress, lower anxiety and live life with a greater sense of wellbeing and connection.    It can be as simple as tuning into your five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.   The practice of mindful eating is simply tuning into the experience of one bite of food using all 5 senses.  This can help you become more in tune with hunger, fullness and speed of eating.  Over time, mindful eating can help to improve digestion, increase body awareness and help maintain a healthy weight.  You can also practice mindfulness of thoughts and emotions to help you gain greater perspective in the big (and small) moments of life.   One of the great teachers and researchers of mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.  He developed the gold standard in mindfulness training the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.   During your one-on-one mindfulness consultations, you will learn tools, techniques and mindfulness practices from this program.    Read more about MBSR and mindfulness from Heidi’s article published in the Globe and Mail: Time is Precious: How Mindfulness Transformed my Relationship with my Father.

What Mindfulness is NOT.

The type of mindfulness you will learn is derived from the research-based MBSR training.  It is closest to the type of mindfulness called “Insight Meditation “or Vipassana.  There are many misconceptions about mindfulness.  Here are a few things that mindfulness is NOT;

  • It is not about having a blank mind or stopping your thoughts, it’s more about being able to watch your thoughts go by without being yanked around by them. You can often gain insight by simply being curious about the frequency, intensity and roots of your thought patterns. 
  • It’s not about getting relaxed. Many people feel more relaxed when they practice mindfulness but ultimately mindfulness is about noticing whatever state you are in at any given moment and becoming more able to respond rather than react.
  • It’s not Buddhism or associated with religion. Mindfulness and meditation can certainly open up feelings of spirituality and connection to something bigger than yourself, but it is not about any specific religious belief system. 
  • It’s not about reaching any special state. It’s about accepting whatever state you are in right now and meeting it with curiosity and kindness.   You can’t do it wrong.  As soon as you notice your present moment experience, you practice mindfulness!

Why book a mindfulness Consultation?

  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Research shows that after only 8 weeks of daily practice,  psychological health and wellbeing scores can improve by as much as 30%.
  • Learn some simple strategies to help tame your mind and reconnect to your body.
  • Improve your relationship with food through mindful eating.
  • Change the structure of your brain!
  • Find deeper connections in your relationships through mindful listening
  • Gain confidence through simple daily practices and follow-up sessions.
  • Explore different resources such as Meditation Apps and free guided meditations.
  • Overcome common obstacles to practicing mindfulness such as:
  • I don’t have enough time: Learn practices that take less than 1 minute and have measurable outcomes.
  • I don’t like to meditate: Learn everyday mindfulness techniques that don’t feel like meditation.
  • I’m not sure I’m doing it right: you’ll receive guidance and answers to all your questions

What does a typical Mindfulness Consultation look like?

One on one Mindfulness sessions are 50 minutes in length and are offered on our virtual platform.  You will meet with Heidi Smith, a Registered Dietitian and trained MBSR Mindfulness Teacher.   Prior to your first session, you will have the opportunity to complete several questionnaires to evaluate your current level of mindfulness and well-being.  The first step will be to set some intentions on areas you’d like to explore and practices to try.   Each session will include a short check-in, a guided mindfulness practice and an opportunity to debrief and discuss your experience.   There are many topics that may be discussed including but not limited to: Self-compassion, Savouring, Positive psychology, Unconscious patterns, Stress signatures, Sitting with difficulty as a way to build resilience, Self-care, Body Awareness and the 9 Pillars of mindfulness: Beginners Mind, Patience, Letting Go, Acceptance, Trust, Non-Striving, Non-Judgement, Generosity and Gratitude. 

At any time the assessment questionnaires can be repeated to evaluate change.   Sessions are usually booked every 1 to 4 weeks, depending on your own unique needs.    Sessions can be claimed if you have extended health coverage for Registered Dietitians as we will discuss mindful eating.  Check your benefits plan.   

*Mindfulness consultations are not psychotherapy and your facilitator Heidi Smith is not a therapist.   The purpose of the sessions is to learn and practice mindfulness skills which includes acknowledging thoughts, emotions and body sensations without going into personal content.

Dream analysis is the process of looking at images in dreams to interpret their possible meaning. Research has suggested that our dream time can help our brain consolidate memories, process emotions, express deep desires and practice confronting potential dangers.  In addition, experts like Carl Jung believe our dreams can help us better understand our unconscious world and give us new insights for personal growth and wholeness.  The images in our dreams can point toward our unconscious patterns or “blind spots”.  Our blind spots can arise out of the expression of the parts of ourselves we don’t like to look at also known in Jungian psychology as ‘our shadow’ or our ‘complexes’.  For this reason, it can be easy to miss the message in a dream due to our unconscious patterns and biases.  Your dream analyst can help you look at the content of your dreams in a more objective way.  We can reduce our bias by looking at the dream images through an archetypal lens.

For example; if you dream of a party, that could be the archetype of ‘celebration’.  The dream may be coming to tell you something about what you celebrate in life.  When you are able to break down a dream into its archetypal images, the content of the dream often brings surprising insights.  

 If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! Your dream analyst Heidi Smith has a highly trained ear for archetypal patterns. Heidi Smith is a Master Dream Pattern Analyst.  She trained at the Assisi Institute under the direction of Jungian Analyst Dr. Michael Conforti.   Over her 4 years of training and supervision, she developed a keen skill for the objective translation of dream images and a deep reverence for the sacredness of dreams.  She uses dream analysis as one tool to help understand unconscious patterns with her nutrition and mindfulness clients. 

It is important to note that working with dreams often brings forward sensitive and personal material.  Dream analysis can be therapeutic but it is not therapy and Heidi Smith is not a therapist.   All dream analysis clients are encouraged to connect with a registered therapist to unpack any sensitive content that may surface during a dream analysis session.

What are the possible benefits of dream analysis?

  • Bring your unconscious world into consciousness and move toward a greater sense of self-understanding, self-acceptance and self-compassion.
  • Learn to decode your dreams in a systematic way using symbols and archetypes
  • Gain insight into your blind spots and patterns that may be holding you back in connection to your body, your health habits, your career and your relationships.
  • Understand the themes and messages of recurring dreams
  • Make peace with an intense dream
  • Gain insights into patterns in your life that may need attention

What happens in a dream analysis session? 

Each individual session is held virtually online for 50 minutes.  We’ll start with a quick check-in about your health and any major events occurring in your life.   Then we’ll turn to the dream you would like to explore.  We’ll take the dream line by line to allow us to pause and explore the opening of the dream, the main characters, the main images and the main theme or mood.  We’ll also explore any turning points and/or resolutions in the dream.  We will look at the symbolic meaning as a possibility in a dream. For example, if the dream is about death, it may represent the symbolic death of a certain attitude held by the dreamer rather than an actual death.   Looking at a dream through a symbolic lens can often help to find peace with a dream that may initially be quite unsettling.   

Once again, dream analysis is not psychotherapy and if the discussion requires a therapeutic intervention, you will be encouraged to seek additional support.   Typically, there is time to look at one dream per session.  Even a small dream snippet can often provide a rich discussion of archetypal patterns and how they may be related to your current life situation.    Some clients may enjoy keeping a dream journal and booking more regular appointments, other clients may prefer to simply book a session whenever a particularly memorable dream surfaces.   

Registered Dietitian

Heidi Smith
Registered Dietitian, BSC. RD.

Heidi Smith has been consulting for individuals and organizations for over 25 years. Her approach combines an expertise in nutrition and exercise with her passion for practicing mindfulness, discovering unconscious patterns and reconnecting to our intuition. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, Heidi is a certified facilitator of the MBSR program (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), a trained SoulCollage® Facilitator and an Advanced Dream Pattern Analyst. She is an award-winning presenter, an author and a mother of 3. In addition to her individual work with clients, Heidi has travelled across North America facilitating workshops for organizations of all sizes.

Heidi creates warm, non-judgemental, soulful spaces to explore our inner world. Whether it’s through meditation, collage, dream analysis or intuitive eating, Heidi uses her facilitation skills to help you turn inward, to listen to your body, to be curious about your mind, to awaken your heart and to find what fuels your fire to live life with vitality.

History and Training: Heidi completed her training in Dietetics at Brescia Collage earning a double degree in Nutrition and Human Biology at the University of Western Ontario. She did her Dietetic Internship at Kingston General Hospital. She began her career as a research coordinator at Queen’s University looking at the metabolic effects of weight loss through diet and/or exercise. Heidi is perhaps most recognized for her 18 years as Head of Nutrition at the University of Guelph, Health and Performance Centre. During her time in this position, she consulted for individuals, sports teams and organizations. On a more personal note, Heidi loves spending time outdoors in the woods, by the fire or on the water every chance she gets. The more she practices mindfulness, the more she savours her time in nature shared with loved ones.