Mindfulness and Weight Loss
I’ll admit that I have always had a problem with focus. I tend to be hyperactive, energetic person who tends to move from one topic or one project to the next. When I start something my mind is often moving ahead to the next project, issue or problem. Mindfulness is not something that comes easy to me. I have to work at it. What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is living in the moment; it is being aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. It is displayed by acting with purpose, intention, focus, and clarity. For most of us, we are not conscious of what we are eating–we are simply eating.
We live in a fast-paced society. Too often our hectic schedules do not allow time for a relaxing meal. Often, I find myself eating while traveling from one weight loss education class to another. For many, eating is a necessity–a necessary evil to fuel us to get through the day. Most of us learned how to cram our food down in a relatively short time when we started school. We have a thirty minute lunch break, but half of that time was taken up getting our meal and finding a seat. By the time we could start eating we have about ten minutes to finish the meal! So, we learned to eat fast. When we entered the workforce the fast-paced lifestyle intensified and compounded with travel schedules, deadlines and quotas. We trained ourselves to eat quickly. We race through the drive-thru and eat driving down the road. As a result, we gained weight.
How do you know if you are eating mindlessly?
- Not present in the moment. Your mind is focused somewhere else rather than on the meal.
- Automatic routine. You are stuck in a cycle. For example, workday lunches are fast-food and snacks are whatever you can grab in the moment.
- Assume opportunities will come again. In other words, you keep telling yourself “I’ll do better the next time” but “next time” never comes.
- Unintentional. You don’t make intentional choices regarding your food choices. You just grab whatever is quick and convenient.
- Doing. You simply “do” whatever is easiest and convenient regarding food choices.
Problems with mindless eating
The way you realize your are hungry is when the hormone Ghrelin, which is released by your stomach, reaches your brain. Once you start eating and you start to fill up, your fat cells release the hormone Leptin. It takes about twenty minutes for Leptin to reach your brain signalling that are full and it is time to stop eating. When we shovel down our food, we can easily overeat before Leptin gets to your brain; hence the felling of “being stuffed” and uncomfortable due to having overeaten. Another side-effect of rapidly cramming down your food is your body things you are in a fight or flight mode and it slows down digestion so it can funnel all the energy it can to your muscles. The slowing of the digestion process can result in missing out on some of the nutritional benefits of the food.
How do we avoid these problems? Is it even possible to be mindful in the midst of travel schedules, deadlines and quotas?
Mindful eating does not require a lot of time; it requires eating in the moment. Mindful eating means that you are present in mind as you fuel your body. Mindfully eating begins by noticing the following as you eat:
- The colors of the food
- The flavors of the food
- The smell of the food
- The texture of the food
Mindful eating also includes:
- Enjoying the experience of eating
- Getting rid of the distraction
Mindful eating means eating in the moment; it is being conscious of what you are putting into your mouth.
Benefits of Mindful eating
- Stops binge eating. Mindful eaters are sensitive to the feeling of fullness. Once they feel that gentle pressure feeling, they stop
- Distinguishes between emotional and physical hunger. When you are present in the moment, it allows you to determine whether you eating just to eat (appetite) or whether you are eating out of true physical hunger.
- Introduces a moment of choice. That brief moment between seeing the food and eating it can make all the difference in the world. Mindful eating allows you to quickly determine why you are eating. Are you eating out of pure emotion or out of the physical need to eat? Mindful eating allows you to make that determination.
- Portion control. Mindful eaters tend to have less struggle about controlling their portions because they get the signal from Leptin they are full when they get full, not after they are actually full!
- Weight loss/maintenance. Mindful eating can be a huge aid in weight loss. Portion control, hence calorie control, is a big factor in weight loss. Mindful eating enables you to stop eating when you are full. In addition, mindful eating can help you say “no” to foods that cause your body to go into a fat storage mode.
Most of us live a fast-paced lifestyle, but that should not stop you from practicing mindful eating. Enjoy the experience of eating and listen to your body; you will reap great benefits!
Have a Healthy Day!