You’ve tried the gluten-free diet, keto, whole 30, and good old calorie counting, but you feel like you just can’t stick to it. Here’s the one thing you haven’t tried that may be the key to weight loss.
Does this sound like you: you decide to start a new diet. You go to the store, buy all of the necessities, and set out to lose weight. You follow the diet pretty well for the first few days. You start to feel a little better, and even see a slight change on the scale. Then the weekend rolls around, and you think, “I’ll just have this one cookie.” Five cookies, a piece of pizza, and a soda later you feel defeated and you give up.
How do you stop this from happening again and again? The answer is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about attention to the present. When you bring mindfulness to eating, you’re creating awareness of the food. How does it look? How does it taste? How does it make you feel?
You may be thinking that you already do this, but there is a little more to it. If you’re eating quickly, or diving into fast food, you are not being mindful. It’s about taking the time to enjoy the meal. Here are a few tips to get you started on mindful eating.
Understand Your Food
This starts at home before you even head to the store. With each item, ask the question, “Is this item valuable to my health?” If the answer is no, then don’t add it to the list.
While at the store, if you find yourself getting something that wasn’t originally on your list, ask yourself if it’s an impulse buy or if you really need it. Be mindful of your position in the store as well. The outer aisles are where you’ll find the good stuff– produce, meats, and dairy. The inner aisles sport items like chips, candy, and other processed food.
Ask Yourself Why
You should ask yourself why you’re eating before every meal or snack. Before you reach for that bag of chips while you work on your computer, stop and take a moment to think. The big question here is, “Am I actually hungry?” A lot of times the answer is a big fat no.
Am I thirsty? Am I bored? Am I procrastinating? Are my emotions playing a role? You must take these questions into consideration first.
Before you ultimately decide to go through with the snack, drink a big cup of water and see how you feel.
Change the Experience
Let’s talk about France. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that in 2015 the United States obesity rate among adults was 38.2%. In France it was 15.3%. Why is a country that loves wine, cheese, and bread experiencing much lower rates of obesity? Because they make eating an experience. They take time to savor every bite. They chew longer. They make it more about the social aspect.
Meanwhile in the United States, we view food as fuel. We eat to satiate, and we don’t take the time to truly appreciate what we are doing.
This is an easy problem to fix. Make your meal the main event– no TV, no multitasking. Focus on the food. Appreciate the meal. More importantly, eat slowly. Take a bite, and actually take the time to chew. Put your fork down and notice the flavors. This may be hard at first, but your meal should take at least 20 minutes. It takes practice, but you’ll find that you’re eating less food overall.
The Mindful Eating Difference
Mindful eating should be a supplement to your diet of choice whether it be keto, paleo, or Atkins. If you continue to practice mindful eating, your relationship with food will slowly start to change. You should enjoy food, not feel constant stress or anxiety about it. For a comprehensive list of mindful eating research, visit www.TheCenterForMindfulEating.org/Reseach.