Many of us face innumerable barriers and challenges in our quest to lose weight. We live in an incredibly fast-paced society where multi-tasking is rewarded, if not outright required.
We try to successfully juggle the multiple obligations vying for our attention such as family, work, school, friendships. But we do this delicate dance by prioritizing our responsibilities in the order of importance, so we can get everything we must do done.
It’s no wonder then that, for most of us, this busy lifestyle comes at the expense of our health.
As a holistic health and wellness consultant, many seek out my expertise to help guide them in one area of their lives that is not frequently prioritized, and usually that’s weight loss. Weight loss tops the list as the greatest desire of my clients. Oftentimes, I find myself sharing the standard advice “Make healthy food choices, consume fewer calories, engage in cardiovascular and resistance training. Have a healthy diet overall.”
However, the most effective yet simple advice I give all of my clients who desire to embark on this weight-loss journey is to eat mindfully.
Mindful eating is the way of eating that requires employing awareness of the present. It’s where we use all of our senses and attention toward the act of eating. Going beyond the mechanics of eating, it’s taking a moment to ask ourselves these two crucial questions:
- -Am I hungry?
- -Why am I eating?
By successfully answering these questions, you can decipher whether your hunger is physically or emotionally (stress) triggered. Then you can make the determination to eat only when it’s physical hunger and find healthier alternatives to manage your emotions and stress.
Tips to eating mindfully and using all of your senses!
- -Look at what you’re eating. What are the colors? What is its size? Does it look appealing?
- -Smell the aroma emanating from your food. Does it trigger your desire to devour the meal?
- -Touch the food with your hand or utensil and feel a connection to what you’re eating. Is it creamy? Is it soft? Is it tough?
- -Taste the distinct flavors and textures swirling around inside your mouth and on your tongue. Is it full of sugar? Is it salty? Is it hot? Is it cold?
- -Listen to the sound of what you’re eating. Is it crunchy?
- -Think about what you’re doing and take the time to chew your food. After taking a bite put your utensil down for a moment and focus on chewing.
Research shows that thoroughly chewing our food makes it more bioavailable, thus allowing all of the nutrients to be fully absorbed by our small intestine to nourish our body.
Also, if the digested food particles are too large, it fails to fully deliver all of its nutrients to our body before moving into the large intestine, then eventually out of the body.
More importantly, chewing slowly gives the gastrointestinal tract enough time to send the signal to the vagus nerve, which in turn sends a signal to the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates appetite) to register feelings of satiety much sooner, thus preventing overeating.
Helpful Tip: Wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds, if it’s physical hunger, you will still be hungry. If it’s emotional hunger, it might just be a craving and the desire to eat should surely pass.
In closing, eating mindfully leads to passive weight loss. Lose weight without diet or exercise!
The importance of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly cannot be overstated, however, mindful eating is a powerful tool for those of us struggling with weight loss.