Massive amounts of food available.
Social pressure to eat certain “traditional” foods on certain occasions.
The growing presentation of what a portion of food looks like.
Food manufacturers making their food more palatable (and harder to refuse) using added fats, sugar, or salt. Not to mention mouth feel.
These are just a few of the things that we are up against these days. Little wonder that such phrases as “recreational eating”, “health halo” (more on that later), and “external eating” have come into being. They are all there to explain the phenomena of what happens when we disengage what we eat from what our bodies actually need.
Enter, Mindful Eating.
Many of us have heard of mindfulness meditation as a way to reduce stress, handle emotions, and cope with distractions. Now there is mindful eating.
It has been thoroughly researched for the past twenty years, but is finally coming into its own as a process that can help people lose weight.
How does it work?
Well, when you can learn to pay attention to what you are putting into your mouth and why, often weight loss ensues. Not just for a few weeks, but for the long term. How cool is that?
How does that happen?
OK, you do have to learn a few things and do a few things differently. Here’s a few of the basics:
- Eat slowly and without distractions. Meaning, sit down, get off your devices, and take at least 20 minutes to eat. That way, your brain will have the time it needs to get stomach signals for fullness. Eating distracted often means you are in a hurry and are not paying attention to your fullness.
- Listen to your hunger. Stop when you are full. (see above) Better yet, learn to stop when you are 80% full. This is great skill building.
- Learn to differentiate between true hunger cues and cravings. For example, if you are thinking that you need that burger and fries, ask yourself if you would eat an apple for the hunger you are feeling. If not, it’s probably just your mind wanting the taste of the burger.
- Don’t get fooled into thinking you can eat more of something just because it is touted as “healthy” or “low calorie”. Here’s where the “health halo” comes in. A great study in 2007 showed that people eating alleged “low calorie” sandwiches at Subway actually took in 34% more calories than they thought. The trick: pay attention to actual amounts and ingredients rather than health claims.
One last thing.
This sort of thing is most effective as part of a program or on-line course because of the added support and information presented. However, you can start with these concepts at home. Just try it for one meal per day until it starts to feel natural, and then slowly branch out into the other meals and snacks you are choosing.
These techniques have been shown time and again to be effective in helping those who have dieted may times and gained the weight back afterwards. It actually gets rid of the unwanted or unconscious eating behaviors that cause the weight to come back on after a diet.
Recommended for an in-depth look at this: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.
All the best
© 2019 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.