Following on from last week’s blog about weight management and changing the language we use to our advantage, this week I’ll be introducing you to mindful eating and why it can make a huge difference to not only what we eat but also to the amount we eat.
What is mindful eating?
Often what we eat is based on habit – a chocolate bar after lunch, a snack when we get in from work. Our food consumption is often so habitual that we aren’t even aware that we have eaten until after we have finished.
The aim of mindful eating is to break these habits. It interrupts our autopilot and helps us savour our food and eat slower. With practice it can also help you re-tune into what your body really needs.
Years of dieting, of conflicting advice about the best way to eat can leave our bodies out of sync meaning that we continue to eat when we are full and refrain from eating when we are hungry just because our latest diet says we have to.
How about getting back in balance so you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are full and still achieve your weight management goals? Mindful eating can help you feel more in control and prevent you from stress eating.
So how do you do eat mindfully?
Although I get a reaction from most clients when I say this – turn off your TV or laptop, put the paper down turn your Kindle off just stop doing whatever you are doing and focus on your food. Eating should be your focus not a secondary activity.
Eat more slowly. If you are eating in company match your pace with the slowest eater. Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. Try eating with your non dominant hand. Studies show that by slowing down we can reduce how much we eat by a whopping 30%. This could be due to the fact that when we eat, it normally takes 20 minutes for food to get from the stomach to the ileum -the final part of the small intestine causing the release of PYY (a peptide) and the message to the brain, “I’m full”.
Focus, focus, focus – use all of your senses while eating. Commit to each mouthful fully, smell it, look at it, examine the texture, colour and shape of each mouthful. Once you’ve done that then taste it. Do you like or do you love it? If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
If you find yourself zoning out just keep bringing your attention back to what you are doing.
Mindfulness takes practice but the benefits are huge as it can lead to sensible eating that ultimately means that you maintain a healthy weight for the long term without formal dieting.