I received a very interesting email from a potential client looking for help in losing weight. In his email, he commented that he is extremely stressed, has a high power intense job, and is always travelling. What struck me, was the fast pace of his life and how food and food intake was a reflection of this speedy treadmill he was on.
Like him, are you are on the go, 24/7 finding very little time to sit and enjoy the food you are eating? Are you busy multi tasking whilst eating at the same time? Do you watch tv, talk on the phone or catch up on our emails while eating? And do you eat too fast, so busy filling the next forkful that you don’t notice the bite in your mouth?
Since your brain can only really focus on one thing at a time, you’ll miss the subtle signs of fullness so you won’t stop until you feel uncomfortable or until you run out of food. Most importantly, you won’t enjoy your food as much, so you have to eat more to feel satisfied.
Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity when it’s done to satisfy hunger; however, when done to relieve boredom, or stress, or is done to feel better then eating is no long that kind of activity.
The bottom line is that weight management is not just about what you eat and the quantity, but also about how you eat.
The last ten or so years has brought research on mindfulness and its benefits, into the foreground. What we have learnt from experts is that eating slowly and savouring each bite could actually be the remedy for weight management and bring about a decrease in the ever- expanding problem of obesity. Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up your favorite foods. It’s about experiencing food more intensely – especially the pleasure of it. To practice mindful eating we use mindfulness, or being present, to cope with modern eating issues. Again, it’s not a diet. There are no menus or food restrictions. It is developing a new mindset around food.
Choosing to eat “mindfully,” in other words, giving food and eating your full attention, will allow you to have optimal satisfaction and enjoyment without eating to excess.
Mindful eating makes it possible for you to experience the difference between physical satisfaction and fullness. Mindful eating also allows you to feel more satisfied with smaller quantities of food. Learning to savour your food simply makes eating more pleasurable. Knowing what satisfies you and getting the most pleasure from your eating experiences are key factors for a lifetime of weight control.
Here are some simple Steps for Mindful Eating:
- Start by recognizing whether you’re hungry before you begin eating.
- Don’t wait until you’re starving.
- Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind
- Eat without distractions and eat when you’re sitting down.
- Take a few breaths and centre yourself before you begin eating.
- Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food.
- Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes.
- Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied.
- Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating.
In a nutshell, whether you are overeating or being overly restrictive, it’s likely that you have lost track of your ability to notice your hunger and your fullness. This break between your body and mind needs to be healed. Mindful eating can generally help in three ways:
1) Mindful eating plugs you back into your body’s cues so you know when to stop and start eating.
2) Being mindful can bring about better management of your emotions.
3) Mindfulness changes the way you think. Rather than reacting to food-related thoughts that urge you to overeat, overly restrict your diet or emotionally eat, etc., you respond to them. You can hear these thoughts without obeying them.