Mindful eating is a powerful and easy way to help get control of your eating.
If you have failed with the usual “diets route” in the past, then this is definitely something you should bring in to your daily life to help you lose weight. Before we get to the nitty gritty of what mindful eating is and how it can work for you, let’s take a step back in to childhood.
You have no doubt had this done to you and probably done it yourself to your kids too. When a baby or a toddler is full or doesn’t like the food it is being offered, it will say no. Turning the head away from the food, closing it’s mouth and turning up it’s nose. It goes purely on what it wants, what it needs and what it likes. It doesn’t go by a clock, it doesn’t know when it’s lunchtime. Their body tells them. And when they eat they are focused on the process of eating.
Now move on a bit. The parent then tries to force the child to eat till the plate is empty. “Just one more mouthful, hear it comes”, and the parent makes ‘choo choo’ noises. “Eat this and you can have extra playtime before bed”, so reward is associated with clearance of the plate. “If you don’t finish your dinner you can’t have pudding”, there’s punishment thrown in to the mix and associated with eating more than you need.
So from an early age you have been fighting a upward battle with what you need and what you eat. Food is fuel, not a reward or a punishment. We all knew this once so lets relearn it!
Mindful eating helps you understand the difference between emotional eating, actual hunger and the need for nutrition. It allows the choice.
Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly. This can be problematic, since it actually takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realise you’re full. If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you’ve already eaten too much. Add to this the fact that we eat in front of the tele or have some other distraction which takes our mind away from what we are actually doing, and that is eating. How many times have you sat down and just shoved food down, be it a meal or a quick snack, and suddenly realised you have finished?
The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by changing eating behaviours and reducing stress. When unwanted eating behaviours are addressed, the chances of long-term weight loss success are increased.
There are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits on their own:
- Eat more slowly and don’t rush your meals.
- Chew thoroughly and don’t gulp it down.
- Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and putting down your phone.
- Enjoy the process and make the time to do it.
- Focus on how the food makes you feel.
- Stop eating when you feel full.
- Ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you actually hungry and is it going to do you good or harm?
To begin with, it is a good idea to pick one meal per day, to focus on these points. Once you’ve got the hang of this, mindfulness will become more natural. Then you can focus on implementing these habits into more meals.
Weight loss and mindful eating are linked. It is not always a case of what you eat but how you are eating. Become the child again and notice what you are doing and why you are doing it. Remember, food is fuel, we need it, the right kind to get the job done. If it doesn’t fulfil that function then ask yourself ‘do I really want to eat it”?
Start to take notice of what’s on your plate, what you are putting in your shopping trolley and slow down. Be mindful and not mindless around food.
More on mindful eating coming soon…….