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Take Control with Mindful Eating

Many people believe that to lose weight and achieve good health they need to follow a calorie reduced diet and a grueling exercise plan. It is true that weight loss can improve health outcomes, but focusing on calorie counting and calorie burning is not the ideal way to get healthier. Most times diets only work temporarily if at all, and when weight is regained it can be demoralizing.

What’s the alternative? The non-diet approach, also known as mindful eating or intuitive eating is a more sustainable way to improve health both physiologically and psychologically. Mindfulness is to be aware and in the moment. Mindful eating can be defined as being fully aware of your experiences, feelings, and physical cues while eating.

Mindful eating can help you fully enjoy a meal and the experience of eating with moderation, without feeling deprived. This is because mindful eaters can get more enjoyment from a smaller portion of food. Eating with purpose and attention can help individuals distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger, and allow for a non-judgemental response. Eating mindfully can change eating behaviors, reduce stress around eating, and can also result in weight loss. Best of all, you can still eat the foods you really enjoy!

Here are some tips for practicing mindful eating:

  1. Stop and ask yourself if you are physically hungry, then rate your hunger on a scale.

  2. Sit down, preferably at a table, and minimize distractions - turn off screens and stop multi-tasking.

  3. Use a smaller plate and dish out portions rather than eating out of a bag or box.

  4. Before you eat pause, take a deep breath to calm yourself, and show thankfulness.

  5. Use your senses to observe the food – noticing colors and smells, then anticipate your first bite.

  6. Chew slowly and savor the flavor, texture, and mouth feel of the food.

  7. Wait to fill your utensil with more food until you’ve swallowed the food in your mouth.

  8. Notice how you feel as you swallow each bite.

  9. Take an intermission half way through the meal to ask yourself again: Am I still hungry?

  10. If you notice you are satisfied while there is still food on your plate, refrain from finishing it off.

Mindful eating takes practice, but it can be a powerful tool to regain control of your eating. So instead of looking for the next “diet plan,” google mindful eating and break free of the yoyo dieting cycle.

Submitted by Marion Schoenberger a Registered Dietitian at Health Matters Medical Clinic

References:

The center for mindful eating, amihungry.com – Michelle May, Harvard Health Publications, authoritynutrition.com, eatingmindfully.com

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