Mindful Eating

Do you eat mindfully?

Last week we went back to basics, and looked at how we lose weight. Getting the energy in versus energy out right.  To lose weight we need to consumer 500-600 calories a day less than our body needs to maintain weight.  This equates to 1-2lbs a week.

The main opportunity for getting that energy deficit right is by reducing your food intake, rather than by upping your exercise.

If you think that you only burn 200 calories in a HIIT session, the equivalent of two pieces of toast, you would have to do three sessions every day, just to get that deficit.

The best way to make sure you are hitting those calories, is to plan your food.  This doesn’t mean that you should sit down and plan every single meal, drink and snack for the week.  What it means is take some time and work out the foods you can eat, that you enjoy and that fit in your calories.

We probably only eat a couple of breakfasts each week, so find two or three options that fit in your allowance.

If you are allowed snacks up to 280 calories. Find some snacks that you like that are under 100 calories, and plan to have three each day.

Looking at lunches and evening meals, do the same again, find some that fit in the calorie allowances, whether they are emergency lunches on the run, from a take away or supermarket, or meals that you prepare for yourself and the family.

If you get your meals organised in this way, you can really focus on changing your habits around food, because the calories are taken care of.

Mindful Eating V Mindless Eating

When it comes to habits, we know they are hard to break, and can sneak up on you without realising. But starting to pay your habits attention and being a little more mindful about the way in which you fuel your body, can help you to get them under control.

Do you eat fast without really thinking about whether you are full or not?

Try slowing down your eating, eating with cutlery, and putting the knife and fork down between mouthfuls. Listen to your body, are you full yet? When you are stop eating.

It takes 15 minutes or so for your brain to catch up with your body and realise you are full. Take your time with your food.  This means your brain will catch up before you have perhaps finished your meal, and tell you that you are full and can stop eating, before you have cleared your plate.

When you eat, are you actually hungry?

Instead of reaching into the fridge and grabbing the first thing your hand touches, ask yourself if you are hungry, thirsty or bored?

Try drinking a pint of water, and then go and do something else. Go for a walk, read a book, find a job that needs doing. Are you still hungry? Or were you just bored?

Do you eat alone, at random times and places?

In the car, when no-one is looking,? When the other half is upstairs bathing the kids? Skipping breakfast, giving you the excuse to binge later?

Try only eating food at set times and places, as a social thing with your family. A time to sit and chat about your day.

Do you eat foods that are emotionally comforting?  Or do you eat to nourish your body?

Take some time to learn about which foods give you the best nourishment. Quite often comfort foods offer us nothing more than energy, when the foods that we should eat, are those that offer us the micro nutrients to keep us healthy. Iron to keep our energy levels up, B vitamins to release energy from our muscles, calcium to keep our bones strong, zinc to promote healing, vitamin c to boost our immune system.  If you take the time to learn about foods, you might find that you want to nourish and fuel your body, rather than comfort your mind.

Do you eat and multi-task?

When you eat, are you really just eating or are you doing something else too? We are all guilty of it – who sits and eats breakfast checking their phone messages, facebook and emails? Or sitting with the TV on for lunch or tea? Or working through your lunch?

This goes back to the first point about listening to our bodies and waiting for those cues that tell us we are full. If our minds are engrossed in the TV or our emails, this is front and centre, and the feeling of satiety won’t be as prominent.

We live in an age where it seems we have to be entertained for every minute of the day. If our brains are idle for more than 20 seconds we get out our phones and start scrolling. It’s an awful habit. Not only does it overstimulate our brains, but it takes away from living (and eating) in the moment.

Next time you eat, just eat.  Savour the flavours, the aromas, the colours, enjoy the company you are with, wait for your body to give you the cues to tell you, that you are now full.

This weeks task…

This coming week, just try and take some of these points on board, enjoy the eating experience. We all love food, that’s why we are here, so why not take the time to really enjoy it, and savour every mouthful. Put down the phones, laptops, switch of the TV, engage with your family and friends and love the food that you are eating. Choose food you love, in the portions that fit within your calories, and you will find that success on the scales will follow.

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