Too many times I hear friends and family tell me that they are eating healthy and not seeing the weight loss results that they want. I was recently intrigued by a topic in class that suggested paying attention to what the body is telling you instead of feeling obligated to feed your body what it is “supposed to” need.
This new phenomenon is called “mindful eating” and is supported by a wealth of research that can be found on the Center For Mindful Eating’s website ( http://www.tcme.org/ ). Mindful eating is based upon the idea that by focusing attention on the present moment we can disengage from the habitual practices that cause many to overeat. For example, a woman who goes to her favorite donut shop everyday after work, orders a dozen donuts and eats them all on her commute home would not be advised to give up one of her favorite foods all together, but instead be advised to put the donuts in the back seat and leave them sealed until she gets home. Once she gets comfortable she may open her donuts and enjoy one with a cup of coffee or tea.
The woman’s mindful behavior change would cause her to focus on truly enjoying her special treat instead of consuming it in the stressful environment of a hectic commute. It is assumed that eventually the woman will start to realize that maybe she only really wants one or two donuts instead of a dozen and will save herself both calories and money, each of which she will be able to spend in other, more healthy ways.
Practicing mindful eating is something I think we all can work on. Thinking about what we are putting into our bodies and really taking notice of both the taste and texture of our food. Mindless habits are like any other habit in the way that they can be overcome with practice. The following are some tricks I have found helpful in making myself more aware of the food I am putting into my body.
Chew 25 times
Chewing food thoroughly will help you recognize how much food you’re really eating. Quietly count to yourself when you are chewing instead of carrying on a conversation with friends or watching TV.
Put your fork down after every bite.
Taking time to taste each bite with full attention will induce mindfulness.
Make a game out of it.
Challenge yourself to try and identify every ingredient in your meal. A hint of basil? A dash of garlic? This can be especially helpful when you go out to a restaurant where the ingredients are unknown!
Sit at a table.
Every time you eat try to make it at your kitchen table. Sit down, relax and enjoy your meal. Sitting at a kitchen table will reduce your temptation to be distracted by other projects and allow you to relax and really truly enjoy your alone time with your food. You deserve it!
Eat in peace and quiet.
Turn off your smartphone, get away from the TV, hide that pile of laundry you haven’t folded and enjoy this meal. You, yourself and your plate of yummy goodness!