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Published on July 12, 2018

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

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      Veronica Castillo

      ADA Human Resources Specialist/ P & C Insurance Guru/ Plant based Cook/ Weight Loss Success Story

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      12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

      12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

      Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

      But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

      I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

      Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

      1. Nuts

      The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

      Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

      Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

      Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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      2. Blueberries

      Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

      When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

      3. Tomatoes

      Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

      4. Broccoli

      While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

      Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

      Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

      5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

      The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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      Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

      6. Soy

      Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

      Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

      Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

      7. Dark chocolate

      When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

      Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

      15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

      8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

      Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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      B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

      Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

      Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

      To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

      9. Foods Rich in Zinc

      Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

      Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

      Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

      10. Gingko biloba

      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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      It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

      However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

      11. Green and black tea

      Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

      Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

      Find out more about green tea here:

      11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

      12. Sage and Rosemary

      Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

      Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

      When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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