Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

Here is a great excerpt from a thoughtful and brilliant article by Dr. Mark Hyman

.... The next time you eat, ask yourself if you are about to eat under stress.  Note how you feel by checking in with your breath- is it shallow or deep? Get in touch with your heart rate and see if you can find a way to use your breath to slow it down and relax your pulse.
Is your mind racing and do you have stressful thoughts running it?  Are you excited about your food or are you feeling guilty or concerned about what is in front of you? Do you feel calm or restless?
All of these questions are the beginning of embarking on an understanding of how you relate to food.  The funny thing is, how we each relate to food tells us a lot about how we approach life and what we want out of it.  The next time you catch yourself eating under stress, follow these guidelines:
  1. Start each meal with 3 deep belly breaths.  For a thorough explanation on how to calm your mind and relax your body please check out my article on meditation.
  2. Observe your thoughts about yourself and the food you are about to eat.  Remember, judging your food as good or bad essentially begs the idea that you too are either good or bad.  While a diet based on whole, fresh, real, organic, local and seasonal foods is best, there will be times when you will want a treat, a “recreational food” or you will be offered a food you may think of as “bad.”  Imagine the difference in digestion you would experience if the next time you ate your favorite foodor any food under a relaxed state where you savored each bite and didn’t have to rush through it out of guilt, worry, or self doubt about willpower! I’d rather see you eat all food under the optimal state of digestion and absorption so that you best metabolize and utilize your nutrients.
  3. When you eat, do so with willing attention toward your food.  In fact, do as my friend Marc David suggests and eatsoulfully, not just mindfully. Marc runs the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.  Learn more about this unique style of nutrition. Soulful eating allows you a whole-body experience that celebrates your innate desire to seek pleasure from foodand not stop until you receive the right amount.  Mentally and soulfully reap nourishment from your food before, during and even after your meal by doing this:
    .  Savor the flavor: Notice the texture and aroma of each bite to get the most flavor. Is it sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, sour, bitter, or smooth?
    .  Observe: Notice your body – is your belly gurgling with hunger?  Or are you completely
    stuffed?  Are you stressed or calm and what could you do in that moment to increase relaxation?
    .  Be Present: Sit down while you eat, turn off all media or keep it in another room and simply eat while you are eating-nothing else!
    .  Resist Judgment: Let go of the urge to engage in negative self-talk and eat with compassion, respect, and gratitude toward your body. Notice when “should” or rigid rules pop into your mind and be aware of any guilt that comes up for you around certain foods.  Now is not the time to criticize-now is the time to calm your mind, slow the chatter and be present in your body.
    .  Awareness: Notice the difference the next time you drift off during a meal.  Bring yourself back to the moment and tasteeach bite. Maximize your pleasure!