1. Eat at similar times daily. Sit down to snack if you feel the need.
2. Obey your appetite above all else. Eat when you are truly hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied. Satisfied is not the same as uncomfortably full.
3. Recall the days of your childhood and remember what it was like to think meal times were fun. Focus on desire and joy and mealtime and re-experience those sensations.
4. Trust yourself. Trust your body. The idea of eating at will is only scary when there is fundamentally no trust in the body or self. This takes time to build, especially after years of dieting. Set the intention to build that trust and it will come in time.
5. Fully experience your food. Eat with no distractions, the only exception being the face to face company of another person.
Additional Resources to Help You Along
Ellyn Satter Institute – How to Eat
It’s well established that typical diets do not work over the long term. After analyzing multiple studies UCLA researchers determined that “Diets are not effective in treating obesity.” Dieting was observed to be a consistent predictor of future weight gain. My previous post reviewed a few other reasons why you should avoid dieting like the plague. While temporary calorie restricting has been proven ineffective, eating mindfully and following one’s own hunger cues has a far better track record. Here are just a few reasons to start applying mindfulness to your eating habits.
1. Mindful Eating puts you right where you belong, in charge of your own body: Eating mindfully builds your intuitive eating skills and liberates you from mindlessly following external cues.
2. Reduction in Stress: Many people experience anxiety around food. Eating consciously and according to your own desires as a rule, eliminates this stress. Stress reduction in turn is supportive to the reduction of abdominal fat.
3. Binge Urges Dissipate: While dieting often incites binge episodes, eating with awareness has the opposite effect. Tuning in to the body makes sitting with uneasy feelings possible and eliminates the need to temporarily bury uncomfortable feelings with food.
4. Natural reduction in intake: Eating according to the body’s cues leads to natural balance. The body does the best job in determining its own energetic/caloric needs. Following its dictates leads to a energy balance without deprivation.
5. Sustainable: While learning to slow down and fully experience food is not an easy process, once you learn the skill you will have developed a sustainable eating style that supports and empowers you.
I realize I’ve given you plenty of reasons to replace dieting with mindfulness without actually giving any steps for developing a mindful eating practice. Mindful eating resources abound these days. Here is one particularly concise place to start How to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day.
Dieting Does Not Work, UCLA Researchers Report | UCLA. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Dieting-Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832. Accessed May 18, 2015.
I know it’s tempting. It’s summer time and you are dreaming about instantaneously getting beach ready… again. But doesn’t this all seem a little too familiar? Didn’t you do this last year? Here’s 5 reasons why dieting is not the answer to your fitness goals.
5 Reasons Dieting is Ill-Advised
1. Inevitable Post-Diet Weight Gain : Temporary changes yield temporary results.
2. Negative Metabolic Consequences: Excessive calorie restriction negatively impacts lean muscle tissue; the same muscle tissue you need to maintain your metabolic rate. Once your muscle mass is reduced it’s not possible to maintain your weight at the same level of caloric intake, creating an unsustainable cycle of calorie restricting.
3. Disconnect from true hunger cues: A key component of most diets involves ignoring your appetite. Your body is the most reliable indicator of when and how much you should actually eat. Why would you disregard this invaluable tool?
4. Psychological Push Back: Your brain thinks that dieting is bull and will revolt against you. Restrictive diets trigger binges.
5. Fosters Fear: If there is one thing you don’t need more of in your life it’s fear. Dieting is linked by many people to a fear of failure and a general sense of not being enough.
If dieting doesn’t work, what will?
What is the solution you ask? Mindful eating, developing a sane relationship with food, and building lean muscle mass. More on this in the weeks to follow.