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5 Jun 2015

3 ways to start mindful eating

Diets don’t work – Mindful Eating is the healthy alternative.
Have you ever looked at your plate and considered where all the food has come from and that the sun, earth, rain and human effort are inherent in every mouthful?
Have you ever really checked in with whether it is the tummy, mouth, eyes, nose, heart or mind that makes you want to eat?
Have you ever observed if the second, third and fourth mouthful tastes as good as the first?
If you have ever been on a diet, I am sure you also feel that you have ‘failed’ at one.  You are not alone!  You know the feeling; tired and tempted by a chocolate bar, you eat it, even though you know it is not what the body needs and then you feel bad.  Bad for having eaten rubbish and bad because you couldn’t ‘control’ yourself.
Research tells us categorically that ‘Diets don’t work’.  Mindful eating is the missing link.  In my experience, when we take on mindful eating, weight loss becomes a side effect.  This is because we reduce the reasons we overeat while also strengthening wellbeing in specific ways. This not only makes us feel good and increases general health but it also causes us to eat less.
Research tells us 85% of women feel they spend too much time negatively ruminating about their weight, body and relationship with food.  This is such a waste of time, but the rumination also tends to leave us feeling smaller and less empowered.
Research also tells us that one of the best predictors of being caught in the binge/diet cycle is having been on a diet at some stage.  Dieting creates the rules in the head, the ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘ought to’; the common thinking that easily turns eating a cake into me being ‘bad’.
In mindful eating we identify ways out of this loop. When we start to make the body a player in our life we start to relate to the body not as an external representation (thighs too wobbly, nose too long, too many chins, butt flabby) but how it is experienced from the inside. We stop the delusional spin of believing that if only my thighs were thinner then all would be well.
Eating is one of the most intimate things we do as we take in the earth’s gifts to nourish our bodies.   Mindful eating gives us all the benefits of Mindfulness (stress reduction, better sleep, improved emotional regulation, increased resilience and increased focus and attention) but it also helps set us free of the unhealthy habits that we may have around eating, as well as the often harsh way we talk to our body.
There are many reasons for eating; nourishment, boredom, fear, social obligation, habit, numbing or wanting to avoid uncomfortable feelings.  Food nourishes the body, so it is natural to assume that it will nourish our feelings and our soul.  After all, it is through feeding that most of us have our first experiences of feeling safe, nurtured and cared for.
When we eat seeking comfort and nourishment for the soul or our feelings eating is a poor Band-Aid solution for a deeper yearning.   So we keep eating in the blind hope that the next mouthful will give us that much-needed feeling of calm, fulfillment and the feeling that we are ok.
Here are three exercises to get you started with Mindful Eating:
  • Before eating, appreciate the food your plate. Notice the colours, consider where each item of food comes from, consider the effort involved in bringing it to your plate.
  • Next time you have a treat, notice the taste, rate it from 1-10. Starting with the first mouthful, then the next. Before the third mouthful, see if the taste is good enough to warrant more.  If it isn’t, don’t eat it.
  • Check out if you place food on your fork or spoon while still chewing. If you do, then make a practice of putting the utensils  down between mouthfuls and only placing more food on them when you have well and truly finished the previous mouthful.
You will find these small changes have a significant effect on your food intake!
To download our 28 free Mindful Eating Tips or to find out about
our online Mindful Eating program please visit www.themindfulnessclinic.com.au

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