Diets are the most unreliable way to achieve weight loss. Study after study shows that people regain the weight that they lost, plus more. Five years after following a diet, most people have gained the weight back and 40% have gained more weight back.
If diets worked then obesity would not be the epidemic that it is today.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is the act of eating with intention and attention.
Mindful eating is about turning off auto-pilot when it comes to eating.
Mindful eating is about stopping for a moment and tuning into your hunger signals to really see what they are telling you.
Mindful eating is learning to understand your bodies signals so that you eat when you are hungry and you stop when you are satisfied. Most weight gain boils down to eating when you are not hungry.
Are your hunger signals emotionally based?
This is a biggie. As children, we are often conditioned (or bribed) with food to soothe us when we are hurt or sad. Years of doing this conditions the brain to seek food when we are feeling hurt or sad. The big problem with this is the type of food that we have been conditioned with. If Mum and Dad came running to us with something sweet when we were upset as a child, chances are it is something sweet that you will seek out as an adult when you are sad or having a stressful day.
How do we eat mindfully?
- Listen to your body, both physically and emotionally.
- Work out what food makes your body feels good.
- Sit down to regular meals without distractions.
- Sit with your hunger and assess if you are really hungry and if you are, what is it that you are really wanting to eat.
- Maybe you are just thirsty, not hungry.
- Sense how the food feels in your body and stop eating before you feel full.
The benefits of mindful eating
- Reduced over-eating. The simple process of reducing your food intake will allow for slow, but effortless and long-lasting weight loss
- Improved digestion. Eating mindfully makes you slow down your eating, allowing your digestive system to process your food better. You will also be more inclined to eat foods that feel good in your body.
- Increased enjoyment of eating. Mindful eating will help you to dissolve the emotional relationship that you have with certain foods. You will appreciate the food that you have and the positive choices that you have made for your body.
- Guilt free eating. When you eat mindfully you will allow yourself to have treats when your body truly wants them. Finally, you can have that piece of cake at a birthday party and know that you are choosing to enjoy this slice of cake as a part of a celebration. You will often find that you might only have a few bites of the cake as this is all your body really feels like.
“Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It is being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience when you eat, and the thoughts and emotions that you have about food. It is more about how you eat than what you eat.” – Susan Albers
Learning to eat mindfully doesn’t happen automatically. Like any new habit, it takes repetition to become automatic.
I challenge you to start today, at your next meal to just stop for a moment and see what your body is telling you that it needs.