In our busy lives, we are familiar with using Mindfulness for stress and anxiety and increasing our productivity. But did you know that it helps people with weight loss? The definition of Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment with a sense of curiosity, openheartedness, interest, and nonjudgement.
Paying attention in the current moment helps cultivate a sense of awareness into emotions and feelings in the present moment. It is this awareness that is the key to sustainable weight loss. It does this by allowing one to understand the subtle cues your body gives you regarding satiety and hunger.
Mindfulness is, most importantly, about changing our relationship with food. Being mindful also provides awareness of how foods make us feel. For example, when we finish eating mashed potatoes, gravy, and meat, we may feel like taking a nap. While when we eat a salad with many different colored vegetables, we may feel energized and alert.
Learning to be mindful of ingredients in foods can help one to make better food choices. Many foods on the market are processed or engineered by food manufacturers to take one to the “bliss point.” The bliss point hijacks your brain through the brain’s reward center, and we end up wanting more and more of that food. That’s why when we eat processed foods such as potato chips, we might eat the whole bag and not even realize it.
Mindfulness can help us understand our beliefs around food and how that affects our weight. For example, I had a client who told me she had the belief, “When women age, they get fat and lose their teeth.” This belief was passed down by two generations of women in her family. By identifying her core belief around food, it helped her to let go of the false belief and rewrite it to apply to her.
I ask clients when they eat to recognize why they are eating? Are they really hungry, or are they craving something? Once you identify why, then ask yourself, what am I eating? Is it to provide energy and vitality, or is it filling a void because they are feeling lonely, anxious, or sad? Notice if it will serve your wellness or help your body/mind? Notice if you will regret your decision.
Mindful eating is about awareness and understanding. Here are ten tips to help get you started eating mindfully:
- When you eat, eat. Turn off any electronics and focus on your meal
- Bring your attention to your food using all five senses to see, smell, taste, feel and hear (if applicable) to your meal
- Choose wise food choices that you know will nourish and provide vitality
- Focus on the meal in front of you and if your mind wanders bring it back to the plate in front of you
- Chew and chew again. Digestion starts in the mouth through enzymes in the saliva so the more you chew and savor your food the better
- Use your non-dominant hand when you eat to slow the process down
- Take breaks of deep breathing while you eat to help with the process of digestion
- Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as you eat
- Notice your satiety cues as you eat and if you notice yourself getting full stop eating
- Always be grateful for the food you eat and the farmers who brought it to you
Mindfulness is a sustainable way of losing weight. Implementing a few of these strategies can help you to change your relationship with food and weight without feeling deprived. It’s really about nourishing your body and releasing your struggle around food. For a free mindful eating guidebook, please visit DitchtheDietforLife.com.