You got the message. Diets don’t work. You have tried them in lots of different versions and for too many years. With a pretty devastating outcome: your waistline seemed to grow instead of shrinking and your self-esteem plummeted. So, you decided to ditch the diets. But what to do instead? How can you achieve healthy weight-loss and get back to feeling and looking the best version of yourself without any restriction and calorie counting?
I have got you covered, here are my 5 top tips on how to eat mindfully and by doing so to effectively and for good get rid of your excess kilos. No further drops in your self-esteem included.
- Re-learn to listen to your body cues of satiety, hunger and fullness.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line most of us have un-learned to eat in accordance with your cues of satiety, hunger and fullness. We were perfectly in tune with our gorgeous physical selves when we were babies and totally knew when we had drunken enough. What has happened in between? And how can we go back to knowing when to eat and how much to eat to be our healthiest, most radiant, vibrant selves?
It is time to uncover our intuitive eating selves again. As a first step, I would like to invite you to eat with all your senses again. To make this possible make sure you turn off the TV, your iPhone, or the radio and put your magazine or book aside. Eating when distracted is one of the quickest ways towards over-eating! How can we fully listen to and be aware of our bodies cues if we do not really pay attention to them? Then sit down to your beautiful meal and start acknowledging everything that you have got on your plate. Take in all the wonderful aromas of the food you are about to eat. When you take your first bite, really savour all the different tastes your feed has to offer. Recognise its texture: what does it feel like in your mouth? Eat slowly so you are not missing out on any of your delicious taste perceptions. The more you are able to enjoy all the different explosions of food and texture in your mouth, the more satisfied every bite you are having will make you.
Also, remember to chew your food properly and long enough, until there are no lumps or solids left. Place your cutlery next to your plate in between bites or have fun eating with chopsticks. But by all means, be sure to slow your mindful eating experience right down. Ask yourself after every spoonful, am I starting to feel fuller? Am I starting to feel more satisfied? Have I already had enough? Keep in mind that it takes about 20 minutes for your hormones to react to the food you have ingested and for your belly to send ‘I-feel-full-signals’ to your brain in response. So, the slower you are able to enjoy your dish, the more likely you are to be able to stop eating when you are full and the less likely you are to overeat.
- Distinguish between real physical hunger and other triggers for eating
To change your game of mindless eating, I would like to invite you to ask yourself every time just before you are putting something into your mind, what is the true reason you want to eat / drink this right now. Are you truly feeling hungry? In a physical kind of sense? Is your stomach rumbling? Has it been 3 hours since your last meal? When is it that you hydrated your gorgeous self with some rejuvenating water last? Is it possible that you are confusing your perceived feelings of hunger with thirst? Or are you feeling bored, tired, sad, angry or overwhelmed and are choosing to eat as your way of coping with these emotions? Or have you made it a habit to always have dessert after dinner, no matter how hungry you truly are, how much you have already eaten and how much you have moved today? Are you eating out of a mindless routine?
Be excruciatingly honest with yourself and take little, continuous steps to reverse what is not right. Set yourself a drink-a-glass-of-water-alarm every hour, talk to whoever made you sad, or angry, make a plan on how to get on top of your stressed over-whelm, ignite your professional fire again, and one night at a time override your neural circuit of automated desert-eating with a new more empowered story. Be kind with yourself while you are changing your habits and consider getting support on board. The longer you have practiced those less healthful habits, the harder it will be to change them and the longer it will take to re-write your mindful eating story.
- Choose nurturing foods over comfort foods
By choosing foods that are nurturing you from the inside out, you are allowing your physical and mental self to feel more satisfied and fulfilled. Your body is getting from all the nutrients it needs for longevity and vibrant health. Your mind stays happy and upbeat because all these foods naturally make you feel good, bring out the best in you, combat, depression, reduce symptoms of stress and keep cravings at bay. We are talking about wholefoods here. Foods that are still as close to their natural state as possible. Real foods. Like your old-fashioned vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, beans and lean meat.
This means we are saying no to processed and refined foods. To foods that make us over-eat, that trigger cravings, that take our blood-sugars on a roller-coaster ride, that make us feel anxious, irritated, thirsty, fat or keep us hooked in our addictive ways of eating. I have always been one for breaking up any kind of abusive relationships. Such as this one. Here is to the new empowered me who has ditched the sugar, turns her strong back onto trans-fats, smiles happily at overly salty foods from a secure distance, and knows how to re-invent her favourite dishes with beautifying wholefoods. Because there is truly no meal that tastes better than the one that you know is also good for YOU!!!
- Establish a healthful eating routine instead of eating randomly and alone
Trust me I know that break-ups are never easy. However, there is a time for everything. Your time has come to make those lonely night feasts memories of your mindless eating past. Your era of stuffing randomly food down your throat belongs to your less happy past. Done and dusted. You are about to write a new chapter of an empowered future where you are feeling happy, beautiful, fulfilled and energised by establishing a healthful eating routine.
Having a plan of when to eat what and doing so regularly is truly one of your biggest defences against your unplanned, erratic feasts of overeating. By eating at least every 2-3 hours you are keeping your blood sugar stable and thus your hunger at bay. Not feeling hungry is a clever move. Trust me when it comes to learning how to eat mindfully, getting rid of those unsightly belly rolls and taking back control over your gorgeous eating self, hunger is not your friend. At all!!! Whenever you do feel really hungry you are very likely to end up making the wrong food choices and eating too much.
Quitting feasting on your favourite comfort foods in solitude makes you more accountable for what you are eating and also in what amounts. Drowning 2 bags of chips and 1 package of your favourite ice-cream down your throat becomes so much harder and less pleasant when someone else is watching you. It simply does not feel good to spiral out of control and it feels even worse when someone else is observing such a downward plunge. So how about re-discovering your social eating self? When did you stop bringing your breakfasts to work, going to lunch with your favourite colleague, chatting with your girlfriends over your afternoon tea and seeing your family for dinner?
Get yourself the best eating company on board and dine together with people you love until eating alone has become an act of self-love again and no longer a destructive war zone.
- Write a food journal to understand the effects the food you eat has on you
Our lives are crazily busy. Therefore, the idea of adding something else like committing to writing a food journal to your to-do list might sound less than appealing. However, taking 2-3 minutes to note down what you were eating, when you were eating it and how it made you feel after, can be an incredibly revealing and insanely empowering experience that it might be absolutely worth your precious time. Understanding the link between how the foods we ingest also make us feel and seeing this clearly in black and white on your phone, computer or notepad can be more than eye-opening.
Realising that whenever you are eating gluten, you are much more bloated, drowsy and foggy headed will not only bring you closer to your slim gorgeous self, but also prevent further damage or disease. Uncovering hidden sugars, salts or preservatives in your favourite bowl of cereals, can explain your continuous weight gain, bad temper, irresistible cravings and less pretty skin rashes. Even more important, I believe that taking the time over the next week or two to journal all your meals and drinks can actually win you time by prolonging your actual life-span. Knowing which foods bring the best out in you and which don’t is a huge step closer to being and feeling your best healthiest self and several steps away from disease and early death. I don’t know about you but this is the direction I am planning to head and I will happily use those few minutes every day to create my happy healthy life plus safest and most affordable age-insurance.
I truly love how effective mindful eating is in terms of sustained weight-loss. However, even more do I love the fact that it is actually fun, empowering and – after maybe a few initial stumbles – all too easy to practise. I cannot say the same about dieting. In fact, I would argue that there is nothing else that has ever had the same self-limiting, shaming, demoralising and disheartening effect on me than embarking on yet another diet. So, here is to empowered women who instead of punishing themselves with restrictive eating, now choose to self-nurture the mindful way.