Back in the day meals used to be events, times of social interaction, and the term meal was synonymous with a break in your day. Perhaps some of the time spent in reflection or engaging conversation. With the advent of all of the time saving “help” that we have, there is more and more a disconnect with actual eating. We have become mindless and as we shovel in more and more calories along with less and less nutrition. The result is an unhealthy more and more pounds of fat and fewer building blocks that could actually aid our bodies in repair, upkeep and growth (the lean muscle kind).
When we talk about quick weight loss we must also talk about the habits that led us to the need of weight loss. Unless we attack these when we actually reach some of the goals that we have set for ourselves we will slide back to the unhealthy “norm” that we never changed when dealing with the fat! Once we lose we do not want the unhealthy overweight condition again!
Mindless eating is one of those habits that we need to address; this sort of eating needs to be replaced with mindful eating. Mindful eating is being present with the meal. That may seem a bit more mystical than I mean it to! Mindful eating means that you are concentrating on the enjoyment of eating. It means that you relaxing and allowing stress to fall from you for a short respite at least. It means that you actually feel good about this process. If we engage in mindful eating the amount of food is less important, the event becomes more important along with the fact that YOU are worth the time and energy to allot time to this most important activity. It means noting the colors, smells and textures of your food. It also means getting rid of other things that can fill your mind at meal times like TV, computer, and reading. It also means coping with guilt and anxiety that some of us carry in relationship to food.
If we continue in distracted, mindless eating we will probably consume more calories, not be able to remember if we did eat, and our digestion is effected much like a “fight or flight” response. Our tendency in mindless eating is not just to eat more but also to eat more quickly. It takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to tell our head that we are full so there is a 20 minute potential during that mindless time to consume too much too quickly potentially adding unhealthy fat!
My weightloss clients sometimes will tell me that they are hungry to which I always reply: Tell me, are you truly hungry or do you just want something in your mouth? This is an important question because their answer will temper my coaching advice.
Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner. Here are some tips (and tricks) that may help you get started:
- Set a timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
- Use chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.
- Take small bites and chew well.
- Enjoy conversation during the meal
- Put your fork down in between bites.
- Think about a pleasant occurrence – upcoming or past.
Weight loss must include change in thinking so that the weight loss is permanent. Begin as you are shredding fat to shred some of these habits that got you here in the first place!