From what you should eat and what you shouldn’t to the infinite list of latest superfoods, healthy eating topics normally revolve around what’s on your plate.
Unfortunately, focusing on what we eat hasn’t taken us too far over the years. The typical American makes 4 weight loss attempts every year and around 95% of the people who lose weight are likely to gain the lost weight back within 1 to 5 years.
That’s not all, 35% of occasional dieters progress into pathological dieting, or disordered eating and a whopping 25% get into full blown eating disorders.
To top it all off, dieting is expensive. Over 65 billion dollars were spent in 2012 by Americans who were trying to lose weight.
It’s time. Ditch the diet mentality
What if we tell you that you can effectively and successfully lose weight, get the body you want and enjoy your food all at the same time?
No food deprivation, no counting calories, no fad diets and no weight loss supplements. You get to enjoy your food and achieve your health and fitness goals, without falling back.
The key to achieving a healthy weight is no secret; we just haven’t been paying enough attention to it. It’s simple; it’s not about what you eat – but how you eat.
Mindfulness: An effective alternative to dieting
A growing body of research indicates that shifting our attitudes and habits around the food we eat and mealtime rituals may be just as important – or even more important – than what we put into our bodies.
Mindful eating, also referred to as intuitive eating, is a form of meditation, which roots from Buddhist teachings that helps people reconnect intimately with the experience of enjoying what we eat.
Also popular as “the opposite of diets”, mindful eating does not come with any restrictions or rules. There’s no right or wrong in mindful eating, but rather the nuances of our consciousness of what and why we are eating.
With mindful eating, we can base our eating on physical cues, such as our hunger signals, and eat when hungry, until satiation, rather than pursuing in emotional eating.
Mindful eating is all about using mindfulness to be fully attentive towards experiences, physical cues and cravings while eating. It has helped treat numerous conditions, including eating disorders, anxiety, depression and many food-related behavioral issues.
Mindful eating primarily involves:
- Eating and chewing slowly, without distractions or noise
- Differentiating between actual hunger and triggers that are not necessarily related to hunger
- Engaging in every morsel of food with all your senses. Noticing the color, sounds, textures, tastes and smells.
- Listening to physical cues and eating until satiation
- Understanding how food affects how you feel and look
- Coping with anxiety and guilt associated with eating. Practicing self-compassion and minimizing critical self-talk
- Eating to feed your body and soul and to maintain your overall health and wellbeing
- And most importantly, having a deep appreciation for food
These points will not only help you cope with negative feelings and habits related to eating, such as emotional eating, feeling of guilt after eating and binge eating, they will also help you develop a deeper satisfaction with your meals, making each meal more rewarding towards your overall health.
Know your food
Unlike the practice of hopping into a new diet, mindfulness is about revitalizing your existing relationship with food. Try understanding the story behind what brought your food to your plate, even if you have no idea where it came from. Think of the possibilities. Who grew it, what was the work involved in growing it, how did it get here. You’ll develop a deeper respect and appreciation towards your meal almost instantaneously.
Let’s take this a step further. Try to understand what foods tap your appetite and cravings and work your meals around this understanding. Highly satisfying foods often contain five superpowers:
- Protein: As it digests slowly in your body
- Fiber: It is not digested body, but forms the bulk of many plant-based foods
- Slowly digested carbs: Have a low glycemic index and do not cause blood sugar spikes
- Good fats: Example, omega-3 fatty acids, improve mood and energy and thus, contribute to positive feelings towards food
- Water: It hydrates your body, aids in circulation and helps you feel fuller faster
Move more naturally
Start by decoupling exercise from food as it can help develop negative feelings towards exercise. Instead, find activities and workouts that you truly enjoy and allow your body to move more naturally and freely.
It will take time as a little bit of trial and error may be needed to find your favorite movement, but it will definitely be a rewarding experience. Start treating exercise as a practice of taking care of yourself, like going to sleep or brushing your teeth.
Practice yoga, as the deep breathing involved can help develop self- and body-awareness. Allow exercise to connect with your core values and you’ll most certainly fall in love with a good sweat session.