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The Best Benefits of Mindful Eating for Weight Loss and How to Start Now

The Best Benefits of Mindful Eating for Weight Loss and How to Start Now

Until recently, with documentaries like “What the Health”, we were never really taught about food and never really learned how to be mindful about consuming it.

Sure, we were taught about the pyramid; the triangle with 4 groups: fats, dairy and protein, fruits and vegetables, and grains/bread. But, we weren’t taught “how”, “how” to eat. Historically, we have been told what to eat and what not to eat; however, no lessons on how to select and consume, ultimately contributing to obesity.

Mindfulness isn’t taught in schools/colleges/universities, therefore, applying it to food and eating is almost foreign to many. Many of us have a strong misconception about food and the role that food plays in our lives and in our health, which creates unhealthy habits.

Food is generally a substance used for pleasure instead of nourishment. We devour most things on our plate without being mindful and aware about what we are actually consuming.

In this article, I’ll look into what mindful eating is, its many benefits and how you start to eat mindfully.

What is mindfulness — religion or practice?

Many times, mindfulness is associated with religion and meditation. Mindfulness may be considered “weird thinking” to some and just “weird” to others, when in fact, mindfulness is being taught in law practice, management/ leadership training, used to treat anxiety and bias, and a multitude of other areas.

Mindfulness is not a religion; rather, it is a state of active and open attention to the right now, this very moment, nothing else. It is the practice of observing your thoughts (looking at/seeing your thoughts), just observation, no judgment.[1]

Often times, our minds are so active thinking about the past and the future, that we let right now pass us by, mindfulness is the practice of not letting life pass you by, it’s about living in the moment with no judgment.

How mindful eating reduces obesity

The State of Obesity reports that adult obesity in the United States has exceeded 35 percent in 5 states, 30 percent in 25 states, and 25 percent in 46 states in 2017.[2]

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With advances in technology and information readily available at our fingertips; this increase in obesity rates is frightening. The U.S National Library of Medicine reports that obesity contributes to 300,000 deaths per year.

Mindfulness can help with the reduction of obesity.

Being mindful about the food you eat will contribute to healthier habits, which contributes to weight loss. Various studies have been conducted on mindful eating and obesity. In each one of the studies, participants lost weight, and continued to lose weight during the follow-up phases. Participants report ongoing weight loss success because they embraced mindful eating in their daily lives.

Mindful eating is about eating mindfully. It is about being fully aware of what you are experiencing; your cravings and physical cues. Physical cues are your warning signs and help you identify when to stop eating.

When thinking physical cues and eating, just remember that you are paying attention to things like how full or not full you are while eating; being mindful and knowing when to stop, contributes to weight loss/management.[3]

How mindfulness makes you healthier

Mindfulness also contributes to better health.

Harvard Health reports that mindfulness has been linked to improvements in patients with depression, stress, anxiety, and weight complications.

A meta-analysis of 39 studies conducted in 2010, by Hoffman et al., researched the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be helpful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues.

Let’s take a look at the many benefits of mindfulness:[4]

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    How to start eating mindfully

    I’d love to start eating mindfully, but how?

    Congratulations! Wanting to begin is half the battle!

    Change is difficult to initiate and keep up with. See Lifehack article: The 6 Stages You Experience When You Try to Change Your Behaviors to learn about how to transform yourself and make changes that last.

    Generally speaking, mindful eating includes the following:[5]

      • Eating slowly without distractions (television/noise).
      • Paying attention to physical hunger cues and eating until you are satisfied and not beyond that.
      • Knowing actual hunger triggers for eating.
      • Using and embracing your senses: sight, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes.
      • Finding ways to cope with the guilt associated with food.
      • Eating for overall health and not just eating for pleasure.
      • Paying attention to the effects food has on your feelings, emotions, and overall health.
      • Enjoying and appreciating your food.

      Slowing down and practicing mindfulness ensures that you pay attention.

      Getting started means that you want to try and embrace change. It won’t work if you feel that it is an obligation. Your social environment is crucial, having a support system ensures higher chances of success.

      Mindful eating will ensure that you savor your food and nourish the experience. Here are a few ways and a few tips to get you started:

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      1. Start slow and gradually make changes.

      Try starting with one meal per day and then gradually increasing to 2 meals a day, then 3 meals a day.

      2. Turn off the noise.

      Eating in silence and away from distractions ensures that you can truly be mindful about what you are eating. It allows you to appreciate the time and effort that it took to prepare the meal that you are consuming.

      3. Slow down when eating.

      Eating slowly helps your brain communicate with your body. It takes about 15-20 minutes for your brain to tell your body that it is full.

      4. Actually, chew and taste your food.

      It may sound silly but, eating fast and not properly chewing your food is not good. It can contribute to complications in food digestion, bloating, and gas. Being aware and mindful of this when eating will help ensure a better digestive process.

      5. Turn the senses on.

      Try identifying ingredients and or spices with taste and smell. It’s a really good trick to being totally present in the moment.

      6. Be thankful.

      Being mindful, as mentioned before, ties into appreciation. Adopting the attitude of gratitude reminds us of how food sustains us.

      What if your family and friends don’t understand your mindfulness?

      Often times, when lifestyle changes are being made, family and friends don’t understand. Change is uncomfortable for most: so, when you are changing up the dynamic of the team, it may not be taken well.

      Having a supportive social environment is crucial to a smoother transition. Try these tips when putting out the news about your journey towards mindful eating:

      1. Communicate the importance.

      Tell your friends and family why you want to embark on this journey. Let them know the type of support you need from them and why it is important for your journey.

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      2. Help them understand what mindfulness is.

      Provide your support system with a tutorial on mindfulness and mindful eating. Help them see the positivity and the benefits associated with your decision.

      3. Educate and spread awareness.

      Though your family and friends may not embark on this journey with you, don’t assume that they don’t want to hear about it. Sharing information and experiences my help them transition. It will also ensure that they still feel like a part of your life.

      4. Don’t be pushy, respect different views.

      All things aren’t meant to be embraced by everyone. Though it would be great for the world to practice mindfulness and mindful eating, respecting different views and perspective is necessary. Find the balance between informing and being pushy.

      5. Do something with your family and friends that relates to mindfulness.

      Experience is always the best teacher. Show your friends and family what mindfulness is. It is important to show that you are growing; however, not away from them. Change is not only difficult for us but also our loved ones.

      6. Join networking and social media groups.

      Joining a community of likeminded people can make a huge difference for your transition and ongoing success. Search local groups and social media groups associated with mindfulness.

      Summing it up

      Mindfulness is a practice that can help transform many aspects of your life. Mindful eating is beneficial for reduction of obesity and obesity related illness, overall health including mental health.

      Mindful eating will turn around a lot of unhealthy habits getting you closer to awareness for mindfulness in all that you do.

      Mindfulness is the path to a conscious living; it is important to be conscious when eating because wellness is linked to everything.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

      [1] HuffPost: The Surprising Benefits of Mindful Eating
      [2] The State of Obesity: Obesity Report
      [3] Psychological Issues (V Drapeau and S Sogg, Section Editors): Mindfulness Approaches and Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Weight Regain
      [4] Think Live Be Positive: Mindfulness Meditation & Addiction
      [5] Eating Mindfully: Mindful Eating

      More by this author

      Veronica Castillo

      Vee Castil; Resume & Career Writer ᛫ Traveler ᛫ Vegan ᛫ Weight Loss Success (-85lbs)

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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