Mindful eating is something that can help you to abandon the diet mentality and reach your ideal weight without restrictions, without torture and also making this a real and lasting change.
Has it happened to you that you continuously try diets and you do not reach your ideal weight or maybe you lose some pounds but after a while, you gain them back? If this applies to you, then maybe you have developed a bad relationship with food, and you also have a bad relationship with your body. Not because you hate it but because when you have been dieting for so long you tend to focus on that what you don’t like about your body, and this diminishes your self-esteem and makes you think that there is something wrong with you because you can not achieve your goal. Additionally, when you are only thinking about trying to lose weight, you can not avoid just focusing on what you do not like about your body.
If you think about it, there are many diets in the market, and continuously more and more ways to restrict the way we eat and the promise of losing those extra pounds. But the truth is that obesity tends to be high especially in countries like the United States and Mexico (the two countries that are the first to be discussed in OECD countries obesity report) and coincidentally these countries tend to focus a lot on diets and being thin. So, instead of thinking that there is something wrong with you or your body, we should think that maybe the strategy to lose weight is not the right one and it is not leading us to achieve losing those extra pounds and maintain it.
This is where mindful eating comes in because it is a strategy to reach your ideal weight but in a more conscious way and at the same time it will help you improve the relationship with food and with yourself.
I have to say that conscious eating is not a diet and it does not focus on losing weight, on the contrary, it focuses on feeling good and being present when you eat. This, at least for me, has led in developing a better mindset around food and my eating habits and resulted in me losing weight in a healthy way and without stress or restrictions.
What is mindful eating?
Reflect a little bit about what have you been eaten recently, do you remember what you ate today? Did you enjoy every bite and the food itself? The truth is that we rarely stop to really enjoy what we eat, to enjoy the experience and the pleasure of doing it. Even though our whole life moves around food, we pay very little attention to it at the time we are eating it.
Eating consciously means that you pay full attention to what you are eating, to how the food feels, its texture, its colour, and also how it makes you feel. This will help you to be more conscious of your body cues and be able to stop eating because you know that you are satisfied.
When we are aware of what we are doing, in this case when we are eating, our eating habits are usually more appropriate, that is, you eat healthier foods, you eat right amount of food for you to feel good. You find that you are satisfied with less food because you are really eating with all the senses, this makes the connection in your body and your mind much more evident and you can recognize your satiety signs easily.
Symptoms that you eat unconsciously
The symptoms of eating unconsciously present themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. On a physical level, it means that you are overweight, although this is also reflected in the actions you have around eating. That is, you have actions that make you eat impulsively, like a habit of eating in front of the tv or looking for and buying specific food like fried foods, junk food, sweets and carbs every time you go to the supermarket.
The mental symptoms are translated into your inner talk where you justify and rationalize your food choices and the portions you eat. That inner talk, on one hand, torments you because you eat a lot or because you cannot achieve your weight goal but on the other hand you keep justifying your habits and the way you eat. Besides this, you justify the fact that you always have to eat popcorn and nachos when you go to the movies because otherwise, you won’t enjoy the movie and other similar habits, which you do not realize anymore.
The emotional side is a little deeper, because there may also be a tendency to eat emotionally. That is, you try to satisfy an emotional need, whether it is boredom, loneliness, sadness, stress, anxiety or any other emotion you don’t notice anymore. We get used to managing our emotions or trying to fill a void with food. In some way, we think that food equals happiness, or tranquillity or comfort.
All this may be due to things we learned since childhood, I think it has to be that culturally we also tend to socialize around food. And although there is nothing wrong with going out with our friends to eat dinner, there is also the fact that now all advertising and all our activities are accompanied by food. In addition, there are cases where parents praise or reward their children with food, and that means that from a young age there is a relationship with food to look for relief and comfort.
How to practice mindful eating
Conscious eating is simply a way to enjoy what you do and be more attentive to what you eat and how much you eat.
It is not about restricting yourself or limiting you, it is simply to choose your foods better, to enjoy them and to stop eating when you are satisfied.
1. Try to eat when you feel hungry, not when you are starving or you start to get desperate for food
When we are really hungry, that is, your level of hunger is really high, it is more likely that you cannot enjoy your food because your brain and body are looking to satisfy a basic physical need, so all your attention will be on satisfying your hunger. The most likely thing is that you eat very fast and a lot more. At the same time, you will tend to eat whatever you find in your way because you are not really making decisions based on what feels good, but in what satiates your hunger.
However, if you learn to listen to your body when you start to be hungry and eat properly, you will most likely eat healthier foods and enjoy them.
2. Start with small portions
It is not about limiting yourself, but about focusing on your food and appreciating what you are eating. When you do it in less quantity you are not thinking about finishing it, but rather enjoying each bite.
3. When you are eating eat
One of the most basic things to start eating consciously is to devote all your attention to eating. In other words, try to eliminate all distractions such as phones, televisions or computers. If you are used to eating with the TV on or with your cell phone, start a habit where you do not use them to distract you. With the simple action of concentrating on the sensations in your mouth and your food will help you to remove this habit.
4. Use all your senses
From the moment you are preparing your food until the moment you sit down to enjoy it, pay attention to its texture, its smell, taste and colour. In this way, you involve all your senses in the experience. You will realize that once you get used to it, your food choices will be better and you will prefer foods of better quality and you will choose not to eat fast food or junk food because it will attract you less.
5. Eat slowly
Give yourself some time to enjoy your meal, even when you are with another person or with friends, try to take a few minutes to eat consciously before sharing your attention with your companions. And try to eat slowly, enjoy the experience.
Are you ready to try mindful eating?
As you can see, conscious eating is something that you can start immediately, you do not have to wait until next Monday to start. And I assure you that it will bring you more benefits, not only in your weight but in your health and even in your self-esteem.
I hope you liked this article.
Would you like to improve the relationship with food and achieve your ideal weight? Do you think mindful eating is for you?
8 steps to mindful eating – Harvard Health
Intuitive Eating Journal
A guide to improving your health, changing the relationship with food and listening to your body.
It includes everything you need to develop a new and healthy lifestyle, starting with the establishment of wellness goals and follow-up with meal planning, reconnect with yourself and have a better self-image.
Forget about dieting and reconnect with your body.
This daily food journal can help you to improve your eating habits, reach your weight goal, stay motivated, track your food and beverage habits and avoid emotional eating by dealing with your emotions with a healthier way.