Eating - the one activity humans all participate in to stay fully equipped, functioning and energized. But with all the diet hacks, plans, and weight loss regimes floating around, why do we still deal with an overwhelming struggle to possess consistent, healthy eating habits? How can we stop unnecessary binges and cravings from catapulting us into the rabbit hole of never-ending guilt, frustration and food comas? How can we maintain a more balanced and healthy relationship with our food?
There is a way, and it’s not one you often see in grocery store check-out lines or in magazines. The key is mindful eating. According to Howard Lewine, Chief Medical Editor of Harvard Health Publications, “If you aren’t mindful of what’s going into your mouth, you don’t process that information. That means it doesn’t get stored in your memory bank. And without a memory of having eaten, you are more likely to eat again sooner than you might have if you ate mindfully.”
Here are five reasons why cultivating mindful eating is important to overall eating habits.
1. Sitting satisfies
It sounds simple, but the effects of eating sitting down are huge. It all has to do with the basic fact that when we eat standing up, it is usually within the restraints of not being fully focused on the action itself. For example, munching on dinner ingredients while you cook, or rushing to work in traffic with breakfast in one hand and the wheel in the other. Other traps of mindless eating that become habitual include eating in front of the TV or your phone screen while checking social media. Although food helps us socialize and bond with friends and family, trying to direct our attention to enjoying each meal can have great results! Also, eating while sitting down is visually satisfying — in that you see all the food together in one place in front of you. When your mind isn't able to visually register the food you eat, it creates the illusion as if you ate less than you actually did. Subsequently, this can lead to feeling more deprived throughout the day.
2. Less (plate) is more!
Not only can sitting down satisfy you more, but eating on smaller plates helps maintain portion control without much thought.Confirmed in the surprising yet proven study known as the Delboeuf illusion, different sized plates can create opposing biases that lead people to over-serve on larger plates and bowls, and underserve on smaller ones. The study found that reducing a plate size from 12 inches to 10 inches, typically results in 22% less calories being served, as the smaller plate makes a normal serving seem more filling.
3. Recharge your “why”
Never underestimate the power of reminding yourself WHY you’re aiming for a healthy eating lifestyle in the first place. Self motivation can be more powerful than you think. When you feel most tempted, trying making "advantage cards" with all the benefits of your obedience. Examples include...
- I love the way I feel when I eat healthy food and moderate portions. I feel great in my body and comfortable moving through life.
- I get joy shopping for fabulous, stylish clothes. I look great in the clothes and I am happy when I do.
- I will not be bloated and I will feel energized every day.
- I am really happy when I step on the scale and I see a healthy number.
- I am a good, healthy example for my children. I won’t get diabetes or other obesity related diseases.
- I will participate in life and won’t let excess weight hold me back. Family weddings, reunions, parties, conventions . . . and the photographs that come along with that.
- I will be able to wear a bathing suit in public.
- I will be able to look at myself in the mirror at the gym and feel good about what I see. I will be physically fit and be able to participate in exercise to my best ability.
- I feel better about myself when I resist overeating and off-plan eating.
- I can continue to be an inspiration to others and help them to attain their health and weight loss goals.
If you don't know where to start with portion control or even what to eat, try a Weight Loss Plan, with fully prepared meals that give you variety and help you count calories.
Learn more about How to Have a Mindful and Happy Thanksgiving with 7 easy Tips.
Sources: Howard, LeWine, “Distracted Eating May Add to Weight Gain”, health.harvard.edu
Koert Van Ittersum & Brian Wansink, “Plate Size and Color Suggestibility: The Delboeuf Illusion’s Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior”, academic.oup.com
Beck. S, Judith. The Beck Diet Solution: Train your brain to think like a thin person. New York: O.H, 2007.
@healthygirlskitchen, “The Beck Diet Solution: Day 1, Make Your Advantages Response Card”, healthygirlskitchen.com