Years ago, a friend at work kept telling me he was going to bring in information about this particularly effective diet that he had been following. He kept forgetting the brochures, so finally, he just told me about it.
“Basically, you wait until you are hungry to eat, eat just until you are full, and then don’t eat again until you are hungry”. I said “duh”. He said, “no it really works!”.
Of course that would work! Most of us don’t overeat because we are hungry. We eat for so many other reasons – we’re bored, stressed, or lonely. It’s mealtime. We don’t want to be rude and refuse the food that mom, grandma, or our party hostess has prepared for us. Who among us hasn’t sat at the computer or in front of the TV stuffing chips in our mouth without even thinking? We get triggered by food commercials, passing fast food restaurants while driving, or by the addictive chemicals in our food. Sometimes we even eat because we’re thirsty!
So if we ate only when we were actually hungry, and stopped when we were full, there would likely be a lot fewer of us fighting the battle of the bulge.
My friend told me about this diet over 20 years ago. Today, something similar to this diet has emerged on the scene, but under a different name.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings in the moment. By bringing mindfulness to your eating habits, you can gain a new level of control over what, when, and how much you eat.
One of the key ways that mindfulness can help with weight loss is by helping you to become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues. As mentioned before, people eat many times not because they are hungry, but because they are bored, stressed, or just in the habit of eating at certain times. Mindfulness can help you to tune into your body’s signals and to eat only when you are truly hungry.
Another way that mindfulness can help with weight loss is by helping you to become more aware of your emotional triggers for eating. Many people turn to food as a way to cope with negative emotions like stress, anger, or sadness. By becoming more mindful of these emotions, you can learn to deal with them in healthier ways and to resist the urge to turn to food as a coping mechanism.
Mindfulness can also help you to slow down and savor your food, which can lead to eating less overall. When you’re eating mindfully, you’re paying attention to the flavors, textures, and smells of your food. This can help you to feel satisfied with smaller portions and to avoid overeating.
10 Tips to Get Started with Mindful Eating
- Use mindfulness as a tool to be aware of your body’s signals, such as thirst, hunger and satiety.
- Take a few deep breaths before you eat to clear your mind and focus on the present moment.
- Eat slowly and savor each bite of food. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and smells of your food.
- Take a break between bites to check in with your body and see if you’re still hungry.
- Avoid distractions like TV, phones, or books while you’re eating.
- Try to eat in silence, without conversation, music or any other distractions
- Eat with intention and focus, rather than eating on autopilot. This means being present and aware of what you are eating and why you are eating it.
- Experiment with different mindfulness techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, visualization or yoga before or after meals to help you relax and focus.
- Listen to your body and stop eating when you’re full. It takes time for the brain to get the message from the stomach that it’s full, so take your time to eat and don’t rush through your meal.
- After eating, take a moment to reflect on how you feel, and if you’re satisfied, if you’ve had enough.
By incorporating mindfulness into your eating habits, you can gain a new level of control over your food choices and achieve sustainable weight loss. So, next time you sit down to eat, take a deep breath and savor the moment. Remember, the key is to be present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and the food you are consuming, and to be kind to yourself along the way.