We’re all guilty of it. Everyone stops for fast food at least once in awhile, and who hasn’t at one time or another crammed a cheeseburger down their cake-hole in a frenzy while maneuvering through lunchtime traffic? Or plowed through a full dinner plate in record time and piled the second helping high because you still felt hungry? Even if you work out religiously and are *fairly* good at watching what you eat, your eating habits could be what’s undermining your ability to lose weight.
In a fast-paced world of fast food that’s readily supersized, it’s easy to fall into a routine of wolfing your food and eating too much of it. Brian Wasink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” says that people make approximately 250 food-related decisions each day, but few of them can explain their motivations behind those choices. That’s because eating has become automated, something we do when we’re hungry (of course), when we’re stressed, when we’re in social situations and, sometimes, just because it’s time to eat.
Deciding to eat on purpose and with purpose is one of the most important weight loss tips you can put into action. Mindful Eating didn’t start out as a diet and exercise plan, but instead began as a Buddist mindfulness exercise. For those who have given it a sincere try, though, being attentive when eating has turned out to be one of the best weight loss programs they’ve participated in.
How It Works
The truth is that most people know how to plan a healthy diet; they just don’t do it. The really cool thing about eating mindfully and with purpose is that it’s not all centered on denying yourself favorite foods or measuring out portions. Mindful Eating starts with preparing the food. Some people take it to the extreme of growing their own fruits and vegetables and keeping chickens and goats or cows so that they can start meditating on the food they eat before and during the preparation process. If you want to go to those levels, feel free, but you don’t have to be a farmer to improve your eating habits and lose weight.
Those who buy their food instead of raising it can begin their mindful eating weight loss plan by paying focused attention to the steps they take in preparing any of the food they eat. Notice textures, be aware of sounds and smells and take care in dishing food up for serving, even if you’re eating lunch alone at your desk.
When it comes to the actual eating part, take a few pointers from the pros. No, we don’t mean Buddhist monks. Many medical and scientific professionals have become interested in Mindful Eating after seeing studies such as the one published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What intrigued doctors, dieticians and the like was that the study found that eating slower by increasing the number of times mouthfuls were chewed reduced the amount subjects ate. To be more aware while you eat, the University of Health Services at Berkeley says to avoid multitasking with food. If you don’t have time to take a full hour for lunch, at least give yourself the 15 minutes it takes to eat a snack for sustenance and give that snack 100 percent of your attention while you’re eating it. The attention factor is actually the central theme in any Mindful Eating advice. Pay attention to what you’re eating and truly enjoy it, chewing slowly, anywhere from 30 to 50 times per mouthful. Don’t get hung up on the number, though. If the food in your mouth has been pulverized and mostly swallowed, there’s no need to continue chomping air to get in your 50 chews. Do make sure, though, that your mouth is empty before taking another bite.
Take smaller bites, too, concentrating on measuring out your spoon or forkfuls as they come from the plate or bowl. Or break off small chunks of bread, cake, or a protein bar before leisurely placing them in your mouth. Almost every expert on eating mindfully recommends trying to schedule at least one meal a week that’s without distractions from television or your mobile phone and they even advise you abstain from reading during the meal so you can immerse yourself fully in your food.
Why It Works
Even when you know how to do something, it always helps to know why it works. In the case of eating mindfully, it works as a weight loss plan mostly because it gives your body time to communicate. Web MD says that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full. That’s why it’s easy to overeat to the point of discomfort if you’re famished. Eating slowly allows you time to recognize when you’re full, but you’ll also feel full longer. Additionally, taking the time to chew your food is healthier for you. According to a Purdue University study, food (specifically almonds in one study) that is chewed 40 times is better absorbed and utilized by the body. What’s more, a study published on PLOS.org found that slow eating and increased chewing prevents diabetes.
So there it is: the diet and weight loss plan you’ve been looking for. The one that doesn’t tell you to stop eating the things you love or to cut out entire food groups. The advice is simple and worth following if it means you can have your cake and eat it, too. So, here is the official challenge to do your own research and see how Mindful Eating affects you. When you take the time to eat mindfully, you’ll eat less, feel more satisfied for longer and will actually enjoy your food. How awesome would it be to gain a healthy relationship with food and lose weight at the same time?