How could ‘Mindful Eating’ help me to achieve my weight loss goals?
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
The idea behind mindful eating techniques is to become more aware of what you are eating, and to get in touch with what your body really needs. The theory is that eating mindfully will help us become more aware of what we are eating and when we are full. It should also help to prevent us from over-eating.
Most of us eat “mindlessly” at the mealtimes we are expected to follow – simply consuming the calories we are told we need for that meal. Often during that meal, we will also be reading, looking at our phone or watching the TV. Making changes to this will really help to support weight loss.
THE KEY IDEAS OF MINDFUL EATING
Slow down – chew and taste your food.
The brain sends us messages to eat and tells us when to stop. It does this when the stomach tells it we are full, and also when we reach ‘satiety’ or satisfaction.
Satiety can occur sooner if we are eating good, tasty food. This is how those tiny posh meals can fill us up – they use so many rich, amazing flavours, that our brain is satisfied with the experience we have had. Therefore, instead of eating bland foods, use herbs and spices to provide flavour, and chew food slowly to experience as much flavour as possible.
Eating slowly also allows more time for the stomach to register the fact that it is full – making it more likely that we will stop before we overeat.
Learn when you are full – and stop eating.
I often tell my weight loss clients to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. How many of us actually do this? If we think about it, not many. Generally, we eat at set mealtimes and clear our plate. But how do we know that we gave ourselves the right amount of food? If we stop relying on these outside notions and listen to our body a bit more, most people will find that they eat a lot less.
If we think of a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being famished and 10 being how stuffed we are after Christmas dinner – we should be aiming to eat when we are at around 3 and stop at around 7. This means not waiting until we are famished to eat, as when we are so very hungry, we will often eat far too quickly and end up eating more than we need.
It also means not clearing our plate, but being aware of when we are starting to feel satisfied and stopping. This goes against much of the programming we went through as children, but is ultimately one of the best ways to stop over eating.
Do not have your meal in front of the TV or whilst browsing the internet. Sit at a table and pay attention to what you are eating, enjoy the tastes and flavours. This is key to preventing overeating.
One of the best ways to ensure we pay attention to what we are doing is to sit in a different place sometimes, you could even try eating with a different hand! This is because when we do the same thing, in the same place, every day we start to do that thing on ‘auto-pilot’. Simple changes to routine, such as moving to a different chair or swapping hand, will make our brain pay more attention to what we are doing. This in turn will help to ensure that we stop eating when we are full.
Look out for my next blog, where I will be discussing some of the other, maybe unexpected, ways you can help to support your weight loss goals – starting with MCT oil.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in health foods stores and private clinics for over 20 years)