Why is that most of us know what a healthy diet is; yet lots of us still struggle with ‘dieting’?
We read more and more ‘wisdom’ around weight loss, but still end up feeling like we are on a constant treadmill of either being ‘on plan’ or ‘off the wagon’.
Here’s the thing.
Eating is complex.
We live in an environment where we are consistently triggered to eat. We’re bombarded with cues throughout the day from the train station to the corner shop. And once we’ve got the idea of eating in our head, we’re never far from some extremely tasty food.
We also have increasingly pressured and distracted lifestyles; which means we end up combining eating with other activities (working, e-mails, phone), so we don’t even give ourselves time to enjoy the experience of eating our meals. We eat at our desks, not pausing to really taste what we’re eating.
To add to this already tricky matrix, most of us bounce between following someone else’s rules around when we should eat, what we should eat, and how much we should eat, and eating in response to triggers like stress or boredom without really knowing we’re doing it.
No wonder we struggle with food.
We need to get back in touch with our own regulatory systems, rather than relying solely on someone else, or external triggers (the time of day, a food advert), to tell us when and how much we should eat.
How do we do this?
By starting to practice mindful eating.
But what does that mean?
Mindful eating means bringing your full awareness to the experience of eating.
It means learning to tune into your body’s natural regulatory systems (hunger and satiety) to help you decide how much to eat. A bit like tuning into a radio frequency.
It means being aware of your cravings for foods, and the decisions you make around these.
Eating mindfully is a natural process that we’re born with
Think about a baby, who self-regulates their food intake with ease – when they’ve had enough, they stop.
However, these natural inbuilt systems are easily overridden when we start relying on external cues (time of day, walking past a food stand) to eat.
Or when we eat in response to habits or emotions (stress).
That’s when ‘mindless’ eating becomes the norm.
Mindful eating is simple, but not easy.
Learning to eat mindfully requires time, patience and an attitude of curiosity, versus a attitude of judgment (I’m bad for eating that) around eating experiences.
But the good news is, we can all learn to do it with practice.
And if you’re serious about developing a healthy relationship with food, it’s worth investing time in…
Mindful eating has the power to transform problematic eating. Clinical studies have found it can reduce episodes of binge eating, emotional eating and negative thought processes around food.
By doing these things, mindful eating can also result in weight loss, minus the dieting mentality.