When you google ‘Mindfulness’ you get about 28,700,000 results. But is it a buzzword, a trend, or is it more than that? And what has it got to do with losing weight?
What is Mindfulness?
In basic terms, Mindfulness is thinking of what you’re thinking, being aware of your surroundings and choosing to focus your attention on something in a positive and helpful way. For example, when you’re walking through a forest and you focus on each step you make, feeling the soil under your feet, you’re already being mindful.
It is not something new. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and has been practised for centuries. Since the early 90’s Mindfulness has been extensively researched and the research shows that it has great benefits for physical and mental health. The University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre has been conducting research and training in Mindfulness since 2008. As a result, it has become incredibly popular in different ways.
The Mindfulness technique is being used by people in many different places, including in the corporate world, schools, prisons, and let’s not forget there are many Mindfulness courses, Apps and even colouring books. A good example is the NHS introducing Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy in 2004, to prevent relapse of depression.
Mindfulness and nutrition
Many of us eat al-desko – we munch our lunch at our desks and suddenly we realise the food is gone – you’ve eaten it without even noticing.
The same often happens when you’re eating while on the go. Let’s call it ‘Mindless’ eating.
Mindless eating often leads to overeating or unhealthy food choices. Comfort eating is a good example of this. Often there is no feeling of hunger but just a desire to feel better or manage stress: emotional hunger versus physical hunger.
Mindful eating can help people be more aware of the triggers to eating and could change bad eating habits, as it is not just about what you eat, but why you eat and how you eat.
Mindless eating is a big factor in weight gain and obesity. Forget about the past, don’t think about the future, now is the moment to start eating mindfully and change your relationship with food. Don’t be judgmental, blaming yourself or others for your weight gain. Try to understand why you’re overweight and believe that by following the path of Mindfulness you could achieve a healthy weight.
How to eat mindfully
- Before you eat, listen to your body. How are you feeling? Are you hungry, and if so, how hungry are you?
- Eat at the table, away from your computer or other distractions such as your mobile phone.
- Eat slowly. While you’re eating, hormones are produced, that tell your body that you’re full. So, if you’re eating too quickly, this signal hasn’t happened yet, and it is very easy to overeat.
- Chew your food very well. Research has shown that increasing the number of chews before swallowing actually reduces the amount of food you eat.
- Chewing well is good for your digestion and nutrients will be absorbed more efficiently.
- Be aware of what is going on in your body and your mind while you’re eating. Are you starting to feel full? How is the food affecting your mood?
- Be aware of what you’re eating. The texture of the food, the taste, the smell etc. And your food experience.
- Mindful eating is not a new fad diet and it doesn’t ask you to give up certain foods. It is all about awareness.
For more information on mindful eating and to discuss how you can become more mindful contact Monique Parker mBANT mCNHC at www.nutritionforyou.co.uk