How often do you sit in front of the television and munch your way through a packet of crisps or box of chocolates. Or perhaps all too often you inhale your dinner without savouring each mouthful, maybe getting up several times throughout the meal to attend to children. Is this enjoyable? Almost certainly not because you either feel stuffed or you berate yourself afterwards, or both. According to an article in ‘Eat Yourself Healthy’ magazine, there’s a staggering 29% of adults in the UK that are obese and that figure is expected to grow. This is due to our unhealthy lifestyle choices and bad relationship with foods.
This is where Mindful Eating comes in, also known as intuitive or attentive eating. Mindful eating is about flexible eating and erasing all those historical mindsets ingrained in us from childhood that actually do us no favours. It’s about not being on this constant treadmill of yoyo dieting and making lifelong changes for the better. Being on a ‘diet’ conjures up feelings of deprivation and in the end we ‘fall off the wagon’ and rebel against it. There are no such foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, refer to them as ‘helpful and unhelpful’ or ‘nutritious and less nutritious’. Using the phrase ‘I shouldn’t’, becomes a battle between you and the food and I assure you, the food will always win!
Changing how you view food involves going on a journey of self discovery and delving into ‘why’ you may have this poor relationship with food. Many of us will have decades of habits that we need to address and change, such as always finishing the food on your plate because your parents encouraged you to. Try to serve yourself less so you don’t experience that internal battle. On our journey of discovery we need to use our common sense more and allow ourselves to have ‘certain foods’ without feeling guilty afterwards.
One of the key elements in mindful eating is taking time over our food, savouring every mouthful and actually tasting our food. All too often we don’t leave enough time for breakfast or lunch and we grab something that’s easy to eat on the go. Many of us are cutting up our next mouthful whilst we’re still chewing the food in our mouth, without pausing between mouthfuls. This is eating mindlessly rather than mindfully. Try to chew each piece of food 50 times and enjoy the explosion of flavours in your mouth. I suggest putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls, allowing your mouth to empty completely before taking the next bite. Remember it takes at least 20 minutes for the neuro sensors in the stomach to connect with the brain and tell you that you are full. Hence why we start feeling uncomfortably full not during by after our meal.
We have two different cues to tell us to eat, internal and external cues. Your internal cues are the rumbling tummy and feeling of emptiness. External cues are seeing and smelling other people’s food and times of the day. Just because it’s 1pm it doesn’t mean to say you need to eat if you’re not hungry. Try to be more in tune with your internal cues and respond accordingly.
Write it Down
Poor relationships with food can often be related to historical beliefs or feelings of shame and guilt. Sometimes writing down our feelings towards certain foods we’ve eaten and how our bodies felt after eating them can help us make sense of our relationship with food. This can also help in improving our mindset and our eating habits in the future.
If you’re wanting to lose weight, the best way to achieve this is by calorie counting and moving more. I’ll be writing about calorie counting later on in the month. You can also make small adjustments to your diet such as leaving the crust from a pizza, not having chocolate on your cappuccino or having cauliflower rice than rice.
Don’t forget that you are human and we will make poor choices from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up about it, move on.
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