The reason why so many of our diet plans fail is we don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger.
The reason why so many of our diet plans fail is we don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger. We turn to food to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom. And after eating, we feel even worse. The original emotional issue still remains and feeling guilty about overeating is added. No matter how powerless you feel about food cravings, you can overcome it by practicing mindful eating. You can change the emotional habits that have sabotaged your diet in the past and regain control over both food and your feelings.
Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions. This ancient practice can transform the way you think about food and set the discipline for a lifetime of healthy eating.
1. Begin with a shopping list. Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulsive purchases when you’re shopping. Fill most of your cart in the produce section and avoid processed foods and the chips/candy at the checkout counter.
2. Come to the table with an appetite, but not when ravenously hungry. If you skip meals, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that your first priority would be filling your empty stomach instead of enjoying your food.
3. Start with a small portion. It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to nine inches or less.
4. Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
5. Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to color, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
6. Take small bites. It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full. Put down your spoon/fork between bites.
7. Chew thoroughly. Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food. You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food. You may be surprised at all the flavors that are released.
8. Eat slowly. If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your companions.
The writer is a nutritionist and food coach who specialises in healthy, lean food.