ELLSWORTH — Have you ever watched a movie or a game with a bag of chips only to realize later that the bag is empty and you don’t remember eating any chips?
Jen Harry of Bar Harbor has just the class for you: “Mindful Eating.”
Through Ellsworth Adult Education, the Bar Harbor-based instructor in meditation and mindfulness will offer a four-week series of classes kicking off Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School.
“We miss a lot of stuff happening in our bodies because we’re so in our heads,” Harry said.
This is the second year that she has taught the course to adult-ed students, but she has led numerous workshops and year-long mindfulness programs to employees at The Jackson Laboratory and Bangor Savings Bank, among others.
Harry was a former counselor for a Philadelphia Community Health Center before moving to Bar Harbor in 1997. She recalls having a patient load of 55 mentally ill adults, all of whom could have used coping strategies, such as mindfulness training.
The Pennsylvania native got interested in mindful eating herself while getting certified in Japanese psychology from the Todo Institute in Monkton, Vt.
“We had to eat silently,” Harry said. “I noticed how much being quiet while I eat affected my experience.”
People are so used to talking to others or reading while they eat, Harry said. “It felt a little uncomfortable to just eat at first.”
The practice of eating silently “enriched the actual experience of how I tasted the food.”
Students in the “Mindful Eating” course will learn about their habits and patterns around food.
Harry hopes to offer students tools to improve their relationship with food.
“Food seems to be such a big issue in our society. We’re obsessed with what we should be eating,” she noted. “We beat ourselves up for how we eat and what we eat and when we eat.”
Harry said being “nonjudgmental with ourselves” is important.
“A simple practice is the mindful first bite,” she continued. “Really paying attention to our food and fully tasting it and savoring it.”
“We can get a lot of knowledge by just observing and then make new choices if that’s a goal,” She explained.
The four-week course will involve students practicing certain behaviors while eating.
“I encourage people keep a journal about their experiences during the practices,” Harry added.
She said the first two classes will focus on mindful eating specifically and why do it as well as exploring why we eat.
The third class will focus on willpower.
“Willpower is directly related to energy,” she said. “Knowing when we’re depleted and knowing what nourishes us” helps.
Stress, fatigue and physical pain all affect willpower.
The last class focuses on “eating for optimal energy and immunity,” or “how food works in the body,” she said.
Harry said she is committed to helping people learn to transform stress and live more mindfully and meaningfully.
Harry holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pennsylvania State University. She has trained at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.
To learn more about Harry’s work for individuals or businesses and organizations, email her at [email protected] or call 801-1107.
To sign up for the adult ed class, go online to https://ellsworth.coursestorm.com or call 664-7110.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The class will take place at Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School.