You likely have encountered the word “mindfulness’ recently across the media. Although it’s a concept with solid foundations in Buddhism and similar philosophies of meditations, it seems to have been turned into a bandwagon used to promote the scale of almost any product with a wellness angle. Nonetheless, it didn’t become so popular without good reason, as being mindful can provide benefits in many facets of your well-being, including in the areas of eating and weight loss.
What Exactly is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is simply the idea of paying greater attention to your food and making eating your main focus while doing it. Once you stop treating mealtime as an activity you rush through as quickly as possible, you will see the advantages for weight loss are considerable.
Listen to Your Body
Taking your time with the food you eat gives your brain a better chance to tell your body when your appetite has been satisfied. Research suggests that there is a time lag of about 20 minutes between your stomach receiving enough food and your brain realizing this fact. The more slowly you eat, the fewer excess calories you’ll have to suffer through to stop this extra fuel being turned into fat.
A Better Relationship with Food
Mindful eating also has positive effects on your mental and emotional relationship with food. If you have habitually overeaten, concentrating on the actual process of eating will reduce the amount you consume absent-mindedly. What’s more, if you have feeling of guilt, shame, or anxiety after eating more than you should, you risk indulging in comfort eating to sooth your negative feelings, only to immediately feel even more regretful. Mindful eating will help break this cycle.
To introduce mindful eating, to your diet regimen, it’s best to begin slowly, maybe trying it out for only one meal a day, and gradually increasing over time. The following are some ideas on how to start; once it becomes a habit, you’ll see the benefits when you venture onto the bathroom scales.
Concentrate on Chewing Properly
Conventional wisdom says you should chew your food properly when you eat. While this is undoubtedly good for digestion, it also slows down your eating considerably, and concentrating on chewing is a key mindfulness technique. Try counting how many times you chew each mouthful before swallowing; you should aim for around eight times for soft foods such as boiled vegetables, and up to 30 times for denser foods such as meat.
Make Eating More Challenging
You can also use physical tricks to promote mindfulness while eating. For instance, if you’re naturally right-handed, switch your cutlery around so you eat as a left-hander. You’ll have to concentrate more closely on the physical process of transporting food to your mount, and not only will this slow down your eating, but it also will stop your mind from wandering. Alternatively, you might try eating with chopsticks, especially if you’re not entirely proficient with them. There’s no need to limit this to Chinese food.
Take Deep Breaths Before Eating
Before eating a proper meal, or when making an impulsive trip to the refrigerator, stop and take a deep breath or two before you take the plunge. Ask yourself why you’re planning to eat. If it’s because of hunger, then take a moment to be appreciative of your fortune in having plentiful of food available. If it’s because of habit, boredom, or the simple pleasure of taste and indulgence, consider the effects this unnecessary eating may have on your weight. There’s no need to build a guilt complex, but even a few seconds’ pause for thought before snacking can remove the urgent desire without leaving you feeling deprived.
Eat in Contemplation
Rather than distractedly wolf down a TV dinner, eat in silent contemplation of the food before you. Concentrate on the taste and texture of every mouthful, and if this starts to pall a little, maybe consider the background of the meal. What stories lie behind the ingredients? What did it take to bring them to your plate? On which occasions have you had similar meals in the past? Making you food the focus of your attention will not only increase your appreciation and enjoyment of it, but it also will slow down your eating considerably, which will make you eat less.
Weight loss isn’t just about calorie counting and begrudging exercise, your state of mind is vital contributor to your success. Whatever specific diet plan you’re following, eating mind-fully will enhance your relationship with food, regulate your excesses, and lead to greater slimming success.
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