Bad habits build up over a lifetime and cause lifelong consequences. This is especially true for bad eating habits, which can cause weight gain and even obesity. Mindful eating is a technique you can use to gain control over your eating habits. Mindful eating techniques can be helpful for your weight loss, improve your health and enhance the way you feel about eating.
About Mindful Eating for Weight Loss
People often learn about mindful eating in a retreat or at a mindfulness course, but you can integrate mindful eating techniques into your daily routine without any such formal training.
Mindful eating provides a number of health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, and even better mood because of the way it helps you eat less and choose foods more wisely.
Mindful eating can increase the benefits of any weight loss program or other type of diet that restricts eating because it puts the focus on food. This approach to eating can help you lose weight even when other weight loss programs have failed you in the past.
Step by Step Guide to Mindful Eating
Choose one meal a day to practice mindful eating
As with any learned skill, beginners take a little more time to get through a new activity than do accomplished masters. Once you get the hang of mindful eating, you can integrate the practice into other meals.
Ask yourself why you are eating
Are you actually hungry or are you eating for some other reason? If you are like many people, you have found yourself eating an entire bag of chips or another unhealthy food when you weren’t even hungry. You might even be eating simply because it is time to eat.
Mindful eating can reduce emotional eating, which is eating in response to certain emotions. This practice can also decrease external eating, which is eating food simply because it is there or because of the way the food looks or smells.
Keep snack foods out of sight, or at least at a safe distance
Whenever you see food, your brain has to decide whether to eat it or not. Seeing food more often, and having it nearby, increases the chances that you will actually eat it. Researchers in one study put candy bowls on the desks of 20 secretaries and put bowls six feet away from another 20 secretaries. The secretaries that had to walk the six feet for a sweet treat ended up consuming about half the chocolates than the secretaries with bowls on their desks.
The best way to avoid mindless snacking is to keep unhealthy foods out of the house or office, of course, but that is not always possible. In these cases, put unhealthy foods in opaque bowls and put healthy food in plain view.
Turn off the television and leave your phone in another room with the ringer off. Eat in silence. Eliminating distractions and conversations helps you focus on the task at hand – eating. In one study, participants watching television while eating meals ate 36 percent more pizza and 71 percent more macaroni and cheese than did those not watching TV. Other research shows that the specific distraction does not matter much.
Do not rush your meals. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and enjoy your food. Focus on the taste, texture, temperature and other characteristics of each bite.
Research shows that slow eaters consume less, feel fuller and rate their meals as more satisfactory than do fast eaters. Taking at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish a meal allows your body enough time to release hormones associated with satiety, and gives your brain enough time to realize that you have eaten enough before you reach for a second helping.
Focus on how the food makes you feel
Sweet treats can make your blood sugar levels – and your mood – rise then crash. Raw fruits and vegetables are associated with better mental health.
Stop eating when you are full
Listen to your body’s signals about satiety, which tell your brain that it is time to stop eating. Your body generates satiety signals in response to expansion of your stomach and hormones released during eating. The sensory experience of the mindful eating meal, such as the appearance, smell, taste and texture of the food, also plays a major role in satiety.
For more information about mindful eating, and for other tips about weight loss, consult with Tampa’s Top Weight Loss Professional. Integrating mindful eating into your weight loss program can help you lose weight, improve your health and get more enjoyment out of your everyday meals.