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The Principles of Mindful Eating

This autumn, the UHN Wellness Program aims to provide employees with information, tools and resources relating to mindfulness, resiliency and improved psychological and emotional well-being.  With the fall season upon us, what better place to start than to reflect upon and bring awareness to a practice that we already perform several times a day, the practice of eating.

Principles of Mindfulness:
• Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
• Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
• Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.
• With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
• Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Woman smelling a strawberry

Mindful Eating is:
• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating

Someone Who Eats Mindfully:
• Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
• Accepts that his/her eating experiences are unique.
• Is an individual who by choice, directs his/her awareness to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
• Is an individual who looks at the immediate choices and direct experiences associated with food and eating: not to the distant health outcome of that choice.
• Is aware of and reflects on the effects caused by unmindful eating.
• Experiences insight about how he/she can act to achieve specific health goals as he/she becomes more attuned to the direct experience of eating and feelings of health.
• Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his/ her food choices has on those systems.

Source: The Center for Mindful Eating

Resilience in Work and Life

UHN Employees are invited to participate in a Research Study on Resilience in Work and Life.

Resiliency Prism

The UHN Wellness Centre is collaborating with researchers from the Ivey School of Business to study how employees can be more resilient in their work and life.

The study is open to all UHN employees (18+ years) that are able to meet for 1-hour per week for 8 consecutive weeks. Participants will be asked to complete weekly questionnaires and a final questionnaire approximately 4-weeks after program completion. Additionally, but not required, participants will be invited to participate in an interview with the researchers.

Participants must be willing to be randomly assigned to a mindfulness training group, a Pilates group, or a no-treatment control group. Any participant that wishes to receive mindfulness or Pilates training but does not get assigned to that group will be able to receive training at a later date. There is no cost to participate in this study.

For more information, visit: To enroll in this study or for any additional questions, please contact

Summer Activities with Colleagues

The summer of 2015 has officially arrived!  Sunshine, warmer weather and extended daylight hours make this season the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.  There also happens to be an abundance of accessible activities in the summer.  This is the case at UHN, where fun activities with your colleagues are a great way to build relationships and re-energize together.


Physical activity is an excellent way to start the day. However, it is often a challenge to summon the motivation to exercise on your own. You can lighten the burden on yourself by inviting your co-workers to join you:

  • On the commute. Some people ride their bike, run or walk to work during the summer. Ask around the workplace to see if anyone else lives nearby you, and if so, ride, run or walk along with them.
  • At the gym. Become a member of the UHN Employee Fitness Centre @ MedWest, take advantage of the UHN GoodLife Corporate Plan or join a local gym or community centre with colleagues and schedule your workouts together.
  • In fitness groups. Accompany colleagues to a UHN Wellness Group Exercise Class.  Is the Group Exercise Schedule not accessible?  UHN Wellness will arrange group exercise classes for you and your colleagues through a program called Concierge.  Contact us for more information.

During work hours
Some colleagues may have obligations before and after work, such as dropping their kids off at school or continuing education. There are many summer activities for you and your colleagues to do during office hours:

  • Potluck picnic. An outdoor potluck is a wonderful way to enjoy the weather while sharing a meal. It allows you to taste a diversity of foods, learn about your co-workers’ cultures, and give everyone the chance to partake in a team event. Shared contributions are invaluable to bonding and team building.
  • Outdoor meetings. If you have a meeting scheduled with your co-workers and the weather is nice, conduct it outside. Fresh air is a boon for clear thinking and stress-relief. If you don’t need any papers, pens or other utensils, step it up a notch and transform the meeting into a walking-meeting.
  • Playing catch. Rather than take a coffee break, take a ‘catch-break’ with your colleagues. Skill is irrelevant when it comes to throwing around a ball or Frisbee. It is about getting some light exercise, enjoying the fresh air, great weather, and having fun with others.


UHN Wellness announces PLAY, an opportunity for you to connect with your inner child and to participate in games and activities that bring fun and joy. We need to play!

Throwback Thursdays
All UHN employees, physicians, volunteers and students are invited to join UHN Wellness for Throwback Thursdays, where we go back in time to the days of recess and the playground. Visit Wellness on the UHN Intranet for more information.

The Email That Could Help You Live Longer

Research shows that low levels of natural light can affect one’s mood and energy levels. As the shortest day of the year approaches, it is important to remember however, that there are several simple interventions that you can practice that can have a significant effect on your overall health and happiness.

One such example is described in the video below. Happiness researcher Shawn Achor says taking two minutes to send an email praising or thanking someone you know instantly gives you a boost. If you send one email a day for 21 days, he says, it could extend your life. Find out how:

For other video clips describing strategies for improved happiness from the same interview, visit:

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Warm Up with UHN Wellness – Group Exercise Schedule

Over the next several months, you may find yourself saying “It’s too cold to workout!” or “I’m too busy to think about physical activity!”.  As challenging as it may be to remain physically active during the winter months, there are many ways and reasons for you to continue, or begin to focus on your health and well-being.

Women at health club.

Looking for an inexpensive, convenient and fun way to be physically active?  UHN Wellness offers group exercise classes at various times throughout the week at many of the UHN sites.

For UHN Wellness Group Exercise Classes that are currently being offered, please click on the link below:

Group Exercise Schedule – November 2014-February 2015

With several class formats to choose from, UHN employees can participate in any of the classes on the schedule above, on a drop-in basis, by purchasing a Flex Pass. Passes are available on the eLearning system.

New to UHN Wellness?? Many of the classes are perfect for all levels of fitness.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the UHN Wellness team to discuss your questions or concerns at or Ext. 14-4486.