Mind Matters: Mindful EatingOctober 26, 2012
Is Mindful Eating a Habit for You?
Have you ever eaten something and not remembered eating it? And the only evidence that you ate anything at all is an empty wrapper or an empty plate? One of the important habits for WLS post-ops to practice is mindful eating. Mindful eating is the act of paying attention to the process of eating, and focusing on the food and your body. It sounds simple, right? Mindful eating is simple in theory, but more difficult to practice until it is a habit.
Multitasking is a part of our day, but is contrary to mindful eating. Women putting on their make-up and men shaving while driving on the freeway; the hand-to-mouth mindlessly eating popcorn while watching a movie or television; or taking kids to the park while texting and sending e-mails on our phones. In fact, the cues around us play a big part when we overeat. During the holidays, with more food choices and social gatherings, mindless eating kicks into high gear. The tendency to overeat occurs when we multitask while eating. The skill of multitasking can be useful, but not when it comes to eating. When you eat mindfully, you block out distractions and don't multitask; you become keenly in tune with eating.
Mindful eating is a habit that can change your life. It plays a big part in your weight loss journey and helps to maintain your weight loss by changing your relationship with food and eating. As you eat mindfully, you exercise more control over your food choices and quantity, and re-connect your body's cues for satiety.
How to Create the Habit of Mindful Eating
- Focus on what you are eating. Be mindful of how your food tastes, what the textures are, and how it feels in your body. Experience your food by chewing thoroughly and slowly. Put your fork down between bites.
- Being aware of your triggers. Identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures from the holidays, or certain foods. Mindful eating shifts your focus and attention to the present moment, which in turn, helps us disengage from habitual, unsatisfying eating. Do you have an annoying relative you see at the holidays that you end up overeating to deal with? When you stay aware of these personal triggers and put your guard up, you give yourself the gift of mindful eating.
- Eat slow and focus. Components of mindful eating are to eat slowly and focus only on the food you are eating. When you eat, just eat, don't think about anything else, and don't do anything else. Don't e-mail, text, work, watch television, or read a book while eating give food your full attention.
- Check yourself. Check in with yourself regularly as to your satiety level. This is key. By staying mindful of your satiety level, the chances of overeating are greatly reduced. You will become more aware of your hunger and satiety cues, leaving less room for the external stimulation to overeat. You zoom in on your internal experience of eating and block the external cues and stimulation.
Mind Matters: Mindful Eating
When you practice mindful eating on a regular basis, you can obtain a more satisfying relationship with food and eating. Give it a try! For every meal, remember to eat slower, focus on each bite, and how the food feels in your pouch. You will experience a whole body feeling of nourishment and satisfaction. Through mindful eating, you can enjoy the holidays even more with a sense of control! Mindful eating will bring extra enjoyment to the holidays by allowing your focus to be more on friends, family, and fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHORCathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).
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