“Everything moderation,” they say.
You know who I am talking about, your friends whole effortlessly lean and radiant, yet eat whatever they want. Small pieces of chocolate every day, pasta at dinner, the occasional decadent hot chocolate with whipped cream and full-fat milk. They’re never uncomfortable after eating. Their weight isn’t jumping around by 20lbs multiples times per year.
Meanwhile, you gain 10lbs just by looks at a piece of double chocolate cheesecake. You’ve been gluten-free, low-carb, calorie tracking, macrocounting dieting for God knows how long. Eating 1400 calories religiously daily during the week, only to find yourself 10,000 calories deep into a large pizza on Friday night continuing on glutinnously raging through the weekend.
Trapping yourself in the cycle of restrict and deprive, and then bingeing as a “reward” or “treat.” Losing weight every week, gaining back the same weight every weekend, and losing that same weight again next week – punishing yourself with food restriction and excessive exercise to make up for the lack of “progress.”
The physical and psychological torments we put ourselves can be mind boggling. Clearly it’s not working. So why do we do it? Sometimes because we don’t know any better.
There is better. And we can do better.
I want to talk to you about Mindful Eating.
Mindful eating isn’t some crazy “woo woo” trend you need to go to the Himalayas and train with the Dalai Lama to learn. In fact it’s quite simple and quite easy. You don’t need to count your calories, you don’t need to deprive yourself, and you don’t need to eliminate all the foods you love that been called “bad” by zealots who want you to believe that certain foods are holier than thou.
Mindful eating is done simply by paying attention to all the things that are happening while you are eating. Eating slowly and paying attention the sensantions, flavours, textures, and feelings that are experienced while eating your meals.
Because of the enhanced awareness we have while eating mindfully, most people who practice this are able to maintain healthy body composition while still being able to enjoy all of their favourite foods. When we slow down and focus on really experiencing our food we autoregulate our caloric-intake. This allows most people to avoid eating themselves to a point of discomfort, being overful, and taking in excess calories.
So how can you start eating mindfully? Start with these three steps.
- Put your phone down
- In the words of the ever-mighty Erykah Badu: “I can make you put your phone down.” Maybe the phone isn’t your vice, but you want to avoid any distractions while you are eating your meals. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and give your meal the undivided attention it deserves. Being distracted while eating will take away from being able to pay attention to what is actually happening in your body. Are you hungry? Are you full? Does your food even taste good?
- Eat slowly
- Next, you will want to make sure you are eating slowly. A lot of people are not even aware of how quickly they are eating. People who eat slowly tend lose and maintain weight more easily, and have better digestion, than people who do not eat slowly. You’re body physically needs time figure out when it satisfied (not full,) and eating slowly will ensure that you don’t jump the gun overeat unecessarily. The improved digestion will mainly start from taking time to properly chew your food better instead of taking larger bites and swallowing the food in large chunks, meaning your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down and process the nutrients that you are taking in. A good goal for a window of time to eat meals would be 20-30 minutes. If setting aside a half hour for a meal feels like an eternity, set a timer for 15 minutes and see if you can gradually eat a little bit slower each week.
- Taste your food
- Start making mental notes about what your food actually tastes like and how you are experiencing it. Is the texture soft, chewy, crunchy, tough? How does your food taste? Sweet, savoury, salty, sour, bitter? How does your food smell? How do you physically feel while eating your food? Do you enjoy it? How could you improve it? How do you feel mentally while eating your food? Is it satisfying? These are all important things to pay attention while eating. And will allow you to truly experience your food and enjoy it significantly more.
So there you have it, eat what you want, but do it slowly, and savour the moment. 😉
Be like Erykah Badu, and put your phone down.