Weight loss is a common goal among today’s adult population. Many people partake in strict diets and relentless exercise regimens to get the results they want, not realizing that the path to success may be much simpler.
Some analysts say just being mindful of what you’re eating, how much and when may help shed pounds. Keep reading to get some actionable strategies to change your perspective about meals, so your mind no longer sees them as just occasions to carelessly lift utensils to your mouth until you feel full, but instances where you’re aware that food is the fuel for life’s activities and there’s a delicate balance between eating not enough and eating too much.
Tune Into Bodily Signals
The body naturally gives indicators to demonstrate hunger. A growling stomach is perhaps one of the most obvious. Rather than making yourself adhere to an inflexible schedule where you eat meals at certain times of the day regardless of how hungry you are, try paying more attention to what your body is telling you.
The same approach is also helpful when filling your plate. Even if the person ahead of you at the buffet is heaping their plate high with French fries and slices of pizza, that alone shouldn’t provide permission to do the same.
Also, try to stay focused on eating to suit your own needs despite familial cues. If your household has always had a tradition of eating everything on a plate before getting up from the table, it may be hard to get others to realize there are some cases where it’s necessary to break from what’s expected and do something that more closely resembles your current dietary needs.
Savor The Experience
Many members of society lead such fast-paced lives that they only see food as something they need to survive, rather than truly enjoying the experience. Fortunately, the practice of seeing a meal as something to savor still exists in some countries.
There, the act of eating is not just related to sustenance, but the pleasure that’s brought on by the various textures, flavors, smells and visual characteristics common to familiar cuisines.
In places like the United States, fast food restaurants are very common because the main goal people have is to eat as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to their schedules.
In other societies, though, people may take several hours to enjoy meals. That doesn’t necessarily mean they eat larger portions at each sitting but that they are more likely to slow down and really become more aware of all the pleasurable things related to eating.
Consuming a meal in the company of loved ones can also cause people to pace themselves more appropriately during meals. Instead of scarfing down food between dashing to daycare to pick up the kids and meeting a client at work, mindful eaters tend to set aside blocks of time in their days where meals are reserved solely for all the benefits of eating and enjoying those at a leisurely pace.
It may not be immediately feasible for you to do the same, but try to at least be aware of your primary goal when eating. Are you just eating to get the food into your body or also being aware of the overall experience? Stop and enjoy your meals rather than just seeing them as periodic events you have to get through, and avoid eating when you’re simultaneously doing other things.
Don’t Use Eating To Cope With Boredom Or Stress
People commonly start snacking because they’re bored or because they’re feeling upset or under pressure and think food will help relieve those emotions. People who spend hours in front of the television may frequently engage in the first habit.
Today’s food manufacturers have worked hard to create and market products that encourage it. Popular snacks are made to be consumed by the handful and mouthful and often require little or no preparation.
Therefore, if they aren’t paying attention to how their hands are moving from a bowl of snacks to their lips and back again, people may find they have eaten entire bags of chips, pretzels, popcorn or nuts in single sittings.
Furthermore, eating is a common coping strategy when people are feeling overwhelmed. By diving into containers of ice cream or eating full bars of chocolate, people sometimes attempt to find comfort from the stresses of life.
They fail to realize that although favorite foods may cause a short-term diversion from whatever is making them feel bad, they’re really just concealing the root of problems and making them feel they can ignore them.
If overindulging on snacks or unhealthy treats is a personal vice, don’t beat yourself up over that perceived shortcoming. No one is perfect, so everyone has things they need to work on. It’s also probably not smart to completely deny yourself the foods you most enjoy.
Instead, try becoming more mindful of the factors that cause you to eat when you’re not really hungry. Rather than using food to help yourself stay occupied or ignore what’s stressing you out, come up with several healthier things to do, whether that means going for a walk, calling a friend or getting lost in a good book.
Also, if you can hardly imagine watching TV or a film without being accompanied by popcorn or another beloved snack, look for packages that contain individual portions. Then, use the advice above about how to truly enjoy the food that you eat so you’re not only more mindful of what goes into your body, but what sensations you feel when doing so.
Learn How What You Eat Affects You
Some people are fully aware that eating junk food meals might make their stomachs upset, but figure they’ll deal with the consequences later. However, it’s ideal if you can have a more immediate sense of how certain foods or other dining habits might quickly impact your ability to thrive through the rest of the day.
One way to be more mindful in that way is to keep a food diary. Besides recording what you eat, make entries related to things like your energy levels after eating and whether your stomach got upset as a result of a meal.
Soon, you should be able to spot patterns that might encourage you to adopt healthier eating habits.
Now that you know several ways that mindfulness can positively change the way you eat, which could in turn cause weight loss, meeting with a nutrition counselor, in addition to trying the ideas above, may help you finally lose unwanted pounds for good.
The suggestions above are also useful even if you’re at or near your ideal weight. Although food nourishes our bodies, it can also harm them when not consumed responsibly. That reality illustrates why it’s so important to have a relationship with food that promotes your wellbeing, no matter how much you weigh or would like to weigh.