Doctor to patient: “Do you do any mindless eating?”
Patient: “How would I know?”
follow site This week, mindful eating is a topic that has come up often and it is an important skill that can be helpful to you in permanent weight loss.
go site Right now, picture yourself at the beach on a perfect day. Maybe the sun is bright and the air is warm. You feel just a pleasant light breeze. The air smells fresh. The sand is pure and feels soft and soothing. So, where are YOU right now? Where is your mind?
http://www.papilouve.com/research-papers-econometrics/ Are you at your computer or are you at the beach? Do you understand that your body was at your computer but that your mind was at the beach? This is what we mean when we say we are present or mindful when our minds are actually in the same place as our bodies.
What does this have to do with permanent weight loss? Now, imagine yourself sitting down on your couch with a meal or just some food. You turn on your TV. You watch the show on the television. You follow the story, the characters, and you are hearing and seeing the sounds and sights. You look down. All of your food is gone. You think, “where did it go? How did that just happen?” So, where were YOU when you ate your food? Were you on your couch or were you in the TV show?
I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t there for my food, I am going to want more. I am going to want to eat all over again! Not to mention that if I am not there when I eat, it is much less likely that I will log that food. And then I will be shocked when my food log says I “should” have lost “more weight” than I did.
Hopefully you are now convinced of the importance of actually being there when you eat. We call this mindful eating. We can practice this skill until it becomes automatic, a “good habit” instead of a “bad habit.” Begin by setting yourself up for success. Eat in a place with few distractions. Usually the ideal location for eating is the kitchen or dining room table, or a table at a restaurant. Imagine that. Remove books and electronics. Turn off any unnecessary sounds or noises. Make it as comfortable as you can. Now, eat with your senses. Look at your food. What are the colors, textures, shapes, etc? If it is a food that is meant to be eaten with the hands, feel the texture of it. Take a mindful breath and relax (as best as you can). Bring a bite of the food to your nose and smell it. What does it smell like? Do you like the smell or not? Slowly place a bite of the food in your mouth. Feel the texture and temperature. Really taste the food. Do you like it or not? Chew the food as slowly as you are able to. Notice the sensation. And finally swallow the bite of food and follow it into your stomach if you can.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have time for this!” But please be willing to try different approaches to permanent weight loss if what you have tried hasn’t worked. Mindful eating is like any other investment. We invest money with the expectation of getting our money back “and then some.” So it is with mindful eating or any other investment in time for your permanent weight loss. You will get your time back “and then some.” And if you take your mindful practice from the plate to the rest of your life, you will really see the returns on your investment. So remember the motto, “don’t eat while doing anything else, don’t do anything else while eating.”
You can also use this tool for mindful eating: if it fits with your own personal tradition or belief, say Grace before starting the meal. I once had a deck of cards called “52 Ways to Say Grace”. You can probably find it on Amazon if you are interested. The word grace is related to the word gratitude, so no matter your beliefs or traditions, you can simply express thankfulness for the food that you have.
Also, you can practice noticing how hungry or full you are. This is a helpful skill. Myself, since I have a food addiction, I don’t think I will ever be able to totally rely on my body. But if you only have some mindless or emotional eating, you may be able to re-learn how to rely on your body to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This is called intuitive eating.