Is dieting too hard for you? Try mindful eating.
Achieving and maintaining your ideal weight doesn’t have to mean restricting your food intake or depriving yourself of the food you love. By listening to your body and eating more thoughtfully, you can reach a healthy weight and even develop healthy eating habits.
Mindful eating, as this alternative to dieting is called, means paying attention to how and what you eat.
It is about being fully aware of your food – from buying and preparing it to serving and eating it – and avoiding any distractions as you eat. When you eat mindfully, you’re using your body’s cues to know when you’re hungry and when you’re full.
Benefits of mindful eating
Paying full attention to what you eat may help you consume less unhealthy food. Because you’re fully aware of what you’re about to consume – including the unhealthy ingredients used to prepare it – you’re likely to hesitate before eating, for example, a hamburger and fries. Mindful eating may also help you moderate your food consumption. It takes time for your gut to communicate to your mind that you’re full. So if you eat too quickly, you might feel full only after you’ve overeaten. By eating slowly and attentively, you’re giving your gut enough time to release satiety hormones that tell your brain you’re full.
How to be a mindful eater
So how can you practise thoughtful eating? In the book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, the authors identify the seven practices of a mindful eater:
- Respect the food: When you eat, just eat. Don’t do anything else.
- Engage all senses: Notice the colours, aromas and textures of the food while you’re preparing it.
- Serve food in little portions: Serving food in modest portions can help you enjoy its quality, not quantity.
- Take small bites and chew completely: Besides ensuring better digestion, eating in small bites can help you savour your food more.
- Eat slowly: By taking your time when you eat, you may feel full faster, preventing you from overeating.
- Don’t miss any meals: Eating regular meals helps you maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
- Opt for a plant-based diet: Consuming food that’s derived from plants is good not only for your health, but the planet too.
Changing the way you eat can have long-term benefits for your health and wellbeing. It can even be the start of living your life more mindfully and meaningfully.