Ignorance is not bliss – why should you be mindful about what you eat?
Have you ever found yourself mindlessly snacking on a bag of chips while watching TV, only to realize that you’ve eaten the entire bag? If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless eating, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying attention to the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. When it comes to weight management, mindfulness can be a powerful tool. It has become a practice that has helped thousands of people to live more intentionally and develop the skills necessary to manage chronic pain, disease, depression, sleeping problems, and anxiety.
The practice of mindfulness has also become the focus of an approach to eating that fulfills the criteria necessary in changing one’s overall approach to eating. Without behavior change, a diet is useless. Although we pay significant attention to studying diets to determine which is the most effective, we still come up with the same answer: they are all effective in the short term, and none is effective in the long term.
Mindful eating is an approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness of the food and their experience of the food. It has little to do with calories, carbohydrates, fat, or protein. The purpose of mindful eating is not to lose weight, although it is highly likely that those who adopt this style of eating will lose weight. The intention is to help individuals savor the moment and the food and encourage their full presence for the eating experience.
Diets tend to focus on rules of eating, with the intended measurement of specific outcomes such as weight loss or improved blood glucose values. All diets have the potential of success or failure based on weight outcomes. However, behavior change will be subject to daily stress and outside pressures and therefore difficult to sustain.
Mindfulness is a process-oriented, rather than an outcome-driven, behavior. It is based on an individual’s experience of the moment. The individual focuses on appreciating the experience of food and is not concerned with restricting intake. The person eating chooses what and how much to consume. Within a mindful approach, the person’s choices often are to eat less, savor eating more, and select foods consistent with desirable health benefits.
Developing mindfulness involves more than just understanding what it is. To truly cultivate mindfulness, it is essential to make a commitment to regular practice and intentionality. Here are some examples of regular mindful activities that can help in developing mindfulness:
- Daily mindfulness meditation: This is a form of sitting meditation that involves using moment-to-moment awareness to focus on the present moment and observe thoughts and emotions as they arise.
2. Yoga: Practicing yoga involves focusing on the body and breath to help achieve a state of mindfulness and relaxation.
3. Mindful walking:
This involves paying attention to the sensations in the feet and legs as you walk, being aware of your surroundings, and observing thoughts and emotions as they arise.
4. Mindful eating:
By slowing down and paying attention to the sensory experience of eating, you can cultivate mindfulness and a deeper appreciation for food.
5. Body scan meditation:
This involves lying down and tuning into bodily sensations while in a meditative state to help release tension and cultivate awareness of the body.
6. Noticing your breathing:
Throughout the day, take a few moments to simply observe your breath and bring your attention back to the present moment. This helps to develop awareness of self in your normal routine.
Mindful eating is a practice that necessitates a commitment to changing one’s behavior, which is similar to the commitment required for any diet or eating plan. At the center of a diet is the requirement to pay attention, and this is also true for mindful eating. It is important to note that the primary advantage of mindful eating is not weight loss, although individuals who make mindful eating a part of their daily routine are likely to shed excess weight and maintain it over time.
At ProGen Weight Management, we believe that weight loss doesn’t have to be a boring or difficult process. By incorporating mindfulness into your weight management journey, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and make lasting changes that support your overall well-being. Contact us today to learn more about our safe and effective weight loss programs.