Mindfulness and weight loss go hand in hand. I’ve tried so many different fads and diets that didn’t work for me. Losing weight is NOT about some diet quick fix, I think most of us know by now that if we want to lose weight and maintain it, we need to change our lifestyle. Changing your lifestyle might seem scary and overwhelming, but I assure you, that if you start slowly and simply, achieving your health goals is more possible now than ever.
Diets don’t last they are unsustainable and usually cause us distress. More often than not we end up putting back all the weight we lost. What we need to do is get rid of the “diet” mentality and re-evaluate our desire, attitudes and relationship with food and eating.
We need to start setting weight loss goals that are sustainable for long term success. When we stop dieting we rid ourselves of the anxiety, stress and restriction around food. How many times have you been told not to eat something on a diet and then find yourself obsessing over the food. This usually leads to binge eating and with that comes shame.
I’m here to tell you that there is a healthy way to break this diet cycle and it all starts with mindfulness as a weigh loss strategy.
Can mindful eating really help you to lose weight?
I’m positive you have heard about mindfulness before, and for good reason but what is it really? Simply put it is the practice of directing your awareness to the present moment. Mindfulness comes with an array of benefits from reducing stress, relief from depression and even minimizing chronic pain. What I also discovered is that you can use it to improve your relationship with food and create a mindful weight loss plan.
“Don’t Dig your grave with your own knife and fork”
Mindful eating practices are encouraged by dietitians all over the world because of the many benefits. While it is not a weight-loss cure, it can be included into your lifestyle for the benefit of your overall health. I found that practicing mindful eating was the exact thing that I needed to get my weight and health on track.
We all know this scenario:
We are sitting at the desk at work, or on the couch at home, we decide to get something to eat, fast forward 15 minutes later, you look down and all your food is gone. Or we are so busy working, driving, watching TV or messing around with our phones, that we are not fully aware of how, what or how much we are eating. This can be problematic, since it actually takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize that you’re full. If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you’ve already eaten too much.
Losing weight with mindfulness encourages us to be conscious of what we eat and how we eat, which allows us to make healthier decisions when it comes to food.
What are you adding to your list? How many of your food items are things like crisps, sodas, candies or ready made meals? The first thing you can do is try and avoid as much of these items as possible. Rather load up on fresh produce and whole foods. Remember, if the processed foods aren’t in your pantry you wont eat them.
The short answer is NO! When we skip meals we may end up eating more than we intended at the next meal. When you are ravenous you are so eager to eat that you might find yourself in a situation where you lose control. The focus shifts from fueling yourself to stuffing yourself. Don’t let hanger control you.
Portion size is important. Dish with your eyes, not your stomach. What I’ve found is that if I loaded up my plate I would eat it all, even after I was full. A helpful tip to use is to start with a small portion. Once you’ve finished the plate and you’re still hungry dish another.
Our lives are so busy, and we are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. Mealtimes or sit down dinners have become obsolete because we usually eat on the go. This is something we need to change.
The next time you have a meal, sit down and take a break. Think about where your food came from and appreciate the time it took to grow or cultivate. Be grateful for the opportunity you have to enjoy delicious meals. Better yet, why not try mindful cooking?
Enjoy your meal with all of your senses and make every meal a total sensory experience. Eating is not only about tasting; take note of the color, shape, texture, smell and sound of the food as you bite into it. While chewing your food try and identify different flavors, and seasonings. Relish in the moment.
Take small bites and chew thoroughly. I can remember my mom always telling me to chew my food at least 30 times before swallowing. Turns out she was right (big surprise). Taking smaller bites and chewing more thoroughly not only aids in digestion but ensures you extract as much nutrition from your food as possible.
Do yourself a favor and try to make each meal last 20 minutes. Your body knows when its had enough, by slowing down your eating habits you can decrease the amount of calories you take in every meal.
Am I bored or hungry? I often find myself in front of the fridge looking for something to snack on when in actual fact I’m not hungry, I’m just bored. Understanding our different hunger cues becomes easier when we are mindful. When I catch myself wanting to eat out of boredom I make myself a cup of tea or drink a glass of water. Its a win win really I snack less and keep myself hydrated.
Another great tip is to do a quick body scan when you are feeling hungry. A body scan will also help you to determine what kind of hunger you are dealing with. Try our 10 minute mindfulness body scan script here.
Here is another really great tip I found when watching a TEDx Talk. Start eating when you first get hungry and stop when you are full:
If you have the urge to splurge make sure its on something you really love. When I cheat I run straight for the M&M’s, but I have learnt to indulge responsibly and keep the above techniques in mind. By being mindful with even my cheat meals I get to enjoy it all guilt free. Incorporating mindfulness for weight loss is not about restriction, that never works. Rather it allows you to explore your relationship with food and how you interact with it to achieve your goals.
“Create healthy habits, not restrictions