Holy shit, life is hectic isn’t it. If my head wasn’t screwed on I’d probably lose it.
In our fast-paced society, eating is an afterthought. It is something that we, at times, feel burdened to have to deal with.
And, if you are like most people, then “mindful eating,” might simply mean “remembering to eat.” After all, there are days when you’re running from one appointment to the next, and you’re lucky if you eat a meal at all.
This guide is especially for anyone wanting to eat better, eat less, and eat more enjoyably without guilt or restrictions.
This Mindful Eating Guide provides you with useful information and an effective, easy solution for gaining control of your eating in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world…without dieting.
NOTE: This extremely detailed. Here is a PDF version for your downloading pleasures so that easier reading can be done at a later time if necessary.
Once upon a time, people prepared for dinner and other meals.
Eating was more of a formal event than a mere inconvenience, as it is today. Our ancestors, hundreds and thousands of years ago, considered eating such an important occasion that they observed certain rituals, including:
- And more
Eating was truly once a special occasion.
We could speculate for an eternity as to why eating no longer holds the same significance that it did in times past. For instance, most of our ancestors had to hunt, grow, and prepare their food for every meal, every day, for their entire lives.
Food wasn’t taken for granted. Food wasn’t wasted. Food was revered for the unique and one-of-a-kind role that it plays in sustaining human life.
Our ancestors respected food as a vital necessity. It’s unfortunate to realize that we have forgotten the powerful, life-sustaining role that food plays in our lives. Food allows our bodies to grow, heal, and function properly. Without food, we would soon die. Starvation would be inevitable.
Yet today, many people give very little thought to their food choices, eating habits, and other nutritional factors.
Food and eating are a mere afterthought in our busy hectic lives. As a result, we now eat foods of questionable nutrition in excess, including processed foods that are toxic to our fragile bodies.
IN COMES “PROCESSED FOODS”
Processed foods are often overlooked as one of the culprits in our inability to eat mindfully.
These foods are incredibly easy to chew, digest, and overeat. Too many people blame themselves entirely for overeating. When, in fact, our bodies have been conditioned and hardwired over countless centuries to eat and behave in a certain way.
Society and agriculture have evolved so rapidly that we, the human race, have not been able to keep up with such significant changes. Our bodies have not had enough time to adjust to processed foods that are rich in calories, fat, sugar, and other ingredients.
David Kessler, MD, author of “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite,” strongly asserts that the food industry produces processed foods highly rich in sugar, fat, and salt for the purpose of bombarding and coaxing our brains to eat beyond the point of satisfaction or necessity. Dr. Kessler believes that we need to develop new skills to overcome the temptation of these “highly palatable” processed foods.
So, you and I are faced with only one solution – “mindful eating.”
RESTORING THE RIGHT MINDSET
Essentially, we have to return to the days (or at least mindset) where we appreciate not only the sustenance provided by our food, but also the much-needed break/respite that accompanies our eating of daily meals.
Eating was a time to enjoy the company of those at home, at work, or other environment. It was an opportunity for our minds to stop the endless chatter.
Therefore, consciously deciding to lavish yourself with a well-deserved and much-needed break from work or study will provide you both nutrition, and rest.
Mindful eating allows you to pay attention to:
- What you eat
- Why you eat
- How (much) you eat
Mindful eating essentially puts healthy eating habits on autopilot so that your choices become effortless, enjoyable, and beneficial.
WHAT ELSE DRIVES “Mindless” COMPULSIVE EATING?
Is there anything else contributing to “mindless” eating other than daily hectic demands, new traditions, and processed foods?
Yes, there are countless other factors contributing to a person’s compulsive eating habit.
Five of the most common factors driving “mindless” compulsive eating, include:
- Chronic Stress
- Your Brain’s Hard-wiring and Willpower
- Satiety Signals
- Eating Reward System
The above five (5) factors are likely to blame for much of your overeating, eating the wrong foods, or inability to enjoy your food and meals.
Mindful eating” is an excellent remedy for each factor.
All forms of stress drain the body’s resources.
Whether emotional, mental, or physical – stress causes an imbalance within your body. As a result, your brain sends signals “to eat,” in an attempt to replenish your body’s resources and balance.
Living in an era that places non-stop demands on you, leaves you with few options other than dividing your attention among multiple tasks.
Life is faced paced and in your face…every single moment.
In fact, it’s automatic for us to attempt to simultaneously complete many activities, tasks, and responsibilities. How else will we ever get it all done, right? So, we decide to “kill two birds with one stone.”
We attempt to eat while:
- Talking on the phone
- And many other tasks
But, here’s the problem.
When you divide or split your attention while eating, you easily (and unknowingly) eat more food than if you actually focused on your eating experience.
The results are your consumption of excess calories.
The satiety center in your brain isn’t able to register your caloric intake fast enough.
The brain’s hard-wiring vs. your willpower
Your brain is hardwired for your survival.
As brilliant as the human brain is, it’s OK with you eating too much. After all, up until modern times, more people died due to starvation than excess consumption of food and calories.
And, to make sure that you really enjoying eating, your brain is easily pleasured by foods that stimulate its pleasure center and trigger a release of dopamine.
Sugar, fat, and salt deliver pleasure to your brain like few other foods.
Your brain is naturally quite fond of foods rich in these ingredients. As a result, your consumption of these foods increases the level of dopamine in your brain… the same way that methamphetamines, amphetamines, and cocaine do. It’s important that you don’t underestimate the drug-like effect that food can have on you. It’s powerful.
Food manufacturer’s and food scientists have long known about the power sugar, fat, and salt has over your brain. In addition, they know that your willpower is quite useless against your brain’s hard-wiring for such foods, which have a tendency to entice and tempt people like nothing else.
To further cripple your willpower is convenient, dopamine-producing foods on essentially every corner. Gas stations, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants provide you with almost instantaneous tasty food loaded with sugar, fat, and salt. Let’s face it – temptation surrounds you. It’s hard for will power to resist such temptation when everywhere you turn, there’s food – of every imaginable kind – loaded with sugar, fat, and salt.
Generally, it takes about twenty to thirty minutes for your brain to receive the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry or full.
Most people gulp down snacks and fast food meals in as little as 5 to ten minutes. In such cases, the brain never has the opportunity to get the signal from your stomach to “stop eating.”
Let’s consider a study conducted by The Journal of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). It involved thirty (30) healthy women to determine any difference that eating at various rates might have on calorie consumption and satiety. Their research findings, published in 2008, showed that the women who ate their meals slowly actually consumed fewer calories, drank more water, and felt satiated quickly.
For obese individuals, leptin resistance may be a condition causing the body to be less responsive to satiety signals from the body’s hormone, leptin. Additionally, environmental cues (smell, sight, etc.) may also send confusing “eat now” signals to your brain.
Nevertheless, mindful eating involves you’re enjoying every bite of your meal; thus, your brain (in most instances) has more time to receive the message that you’ve had enough. On the other hand, “mindless eating” results in your devouring far more calories than your body needs and before you receive the signal to “stop eating.”
Eating Reward System
What many people don’t know is that, your body rewards you each time you obey its command “to eat.”
That relaxed, calm, and “good” feeling experienced after you’ve eaten is your brain rewarding you with a small, yet noticeable “endorphin rush.”
Study after study has found that “eating” actually improves a person’s mood. That’s why eating is such a common, quick, and easy response to negative emotions or stress. While not a healthy way of relieving stress, eating is nevertheless, a very effective remedy…and your body knows it.
Simply put, your willpower is no match for your body’s potent reward/survival system…or your brain’s hard-wiring.
However eating mindfully allows you to:
- Control your eating even while under chronic stress
- Focus on your meal
- Consume fewer calories
- Work with your brain’s hard-wiring instead of against i
- Benefit from your body’s satiety signals
- Avoid being a slave to your body’s “eating reward system”
MINDFUL EATING: WHAT IS IT?
Mindful eating isn’t a diet.
It isn’t about weight loss. Nevertheless, a common side-effect of “mindful eating” is weight loss.
So, what is it?
The concept of mindful eating emerged several years ago, and has received a great deal of attention. Nevertheless, mindful eating has been practiced by people of various cultures and certain religions for thousands of years.
The essence of mindful eating comes down to eating in such a way that allows you to enjoy the experience, while simultaneously eating no more or no less than your body requires.
People describe “mindful eating” as:
- Eating with awareness of the source of your craving or hunger
- Eating until you are no longer hungry, but not “stuffed” or “full
- A conscious, healthy, and enjoyable way of eating
- Eating with full attention to your dining/eating experience
Anything can be mindfully eaten, whether a piece of chocolate or a cheeseburger. The result is often greater enjoyment, quicker satiety, and fewer calories/food consumed.
Mindful Eating: The Benefits and Its Importance
Have you ever wondered…
- Why can’t you simply eat just enough, instead of too much?
- If your inability to control your eating makes you weak or bad?
- How you develop a better relationship with food?
Those are questions of people struggling to get a handle on their eating.
Most people don’t even know that it is possible to experience a healthy and pleasurable relationship with food.
Instead of eating for nourishment, millions of people now eat to kill the pain of some other problem or discomfort, including:
Most people abuse food because it’s perfectly legal to do so, and it’s available everywhere, 24 hours each day.
7 REASONS TO TRY MINDFUL EATING
Mindful eating (and this guide) provides you with answers to those pressing questions. It’s both important and beneficial.
It provides you with a healthy alternative to “mindless out–of-control eating.” Instead of turning to food for relief of stress or boredom, mindless eating helps you pinpoint the source of your hunger or craving so you can avoid eating to relieve emotional discomfort or pain.
In addition, mindful eating allows you to:
- Recalibrate your body’s “full signal,” and eat healthier, and less
- Develop a good, healthy relationship with food/eating
- Satisfy your hunger with fewer calories and smaller portions
- Gain less weight, or lose weight
- Overcome “stress” eating
- Enjoy your food and meals
- Avoid fighting against your brain’s hard-wiring and reward system
Knowing what “mindful eating” is, and its benefits are only worthwhile if you have some doable, easy-to-implement strategies and tactics.
Five Powerful “Mindful Eating” Strategies
1) Shrink Your Dishware: Using smaller plates, bowls, and glasses is a simple yet powerful way to begin practicing mindful eating.
People who switch to smaller dishware seldom double their servings. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to be more mindful of your food and also eat less.
2) Chew More: Chew your food about 30 to 40 times. Eat slowly. Enjoy and savor each bite. Not only are you likely to eat less by chewing more, but you also will be able to:
- Better absorb your food’s nutrients and energy
- Maintain your ideal (or healthy) weight
- More easily digest your food
3) Create Tiny Triggers: A trigger is anything that brings about a certain memory, feeling, or action. Come up with at least three (3) triggers you can use to become a more “mindful eater.”
Here are some suggestions:
- Note Triggers – use either a piece of paper or a post-it note as a reminder. For example, you might place a post-it note on your TV or computer monitor that says, “I eat my meals free of TV or Computers. I focus 100% on eating.” This will remind you that these activities are to be done separately, and you are to focus 100% on your snack or beverage.
- Physical Triggers – use any object that will instantly trigger or remind you to be more mindful with your meals. For example, you might move all snacks and beverages away from your desk or computer area…and instead replace them with an apple or some nuts.
4) Add More Steps: Consider “steps” to be the distance or degree of difficulty required for you to perform a certain task or bad habit.
Therefore, instead of trying to use willpower, you make it more difficult to indulge in an undesirable habit. By simply making it more difficult by adding two or three steps is quite effective.
For example, you might place the cookies in the refrigerator in the garage so that they are out of sight, and further away than arm’s length.
Another idea is to simply be to cleanse your home, cabinets, and kitchen of all junk foods. Eating dessert at 11:30 at night won’t seem like such a good idea when you have to get dressed, hop in the car, and drive to go get it. That’s the power of adding “more steps.” (How to perform a kitchen makeover)
5) Access Your Mood/Mind Chatter: Your mood and mental chatter often influence or determine your food choices.
Take 60 seconds before you order, purchase, or prepare your food to ask yourself “what is the primary reason” you feel the need to eat at that particular moment.
- Has the day left your mind with incessant mental chatter that you hope to quiet by eating?
- How was your morning, afternoon, evening, or day? Good or bad?
- Would you describe your mood as – good or bad?
Next, after determining your mood and reason for eating at that particular moment, ask yourself if food is the right choice.
It’s strongly recommended that if you are stressed, anxious, or filling a bit down, then put aside eating until later.
Do something else.
And, return to the table when your motive for eating is nourishment of your body instead of stress relief.
CHEAT SHEET FOR MINDFUL EATING
Tactic #1 - Focus ONLY on eating. DO NOT “eat and” do something else.
- Eat with your television turned off.
- Only eat at your desk if you are NOT working.
- Avoid eating while you are gaming, sending emails, or making calls.
- Eat without reading magazines or books.
Tactic #2 - Be in the “now” moment with your food, enjoy each bite.
- Ignore distractions, avoid judgments, and release criticisms while eating, so you can fully experience your food and drink.
- Take a moment before eating to appreciate all that was required in order to bring each different food that makes up your meal.
- Notice how your foods smell, flavor, temperature, color, taste, texture, and sound.
- Consider what you are placing in your body.
Tactic #3 – Observe and pay attention.
- Notice your body’s internal reactions and feelings to your food
- Be aware and sensitive to how your body feels when it is only one- third (1/3) full or two-thirds (2/3) full.
- How certain foods affect your mood or emotions.
- Your external environments, happenings
Why Master “Mindful Eating” Before Trying ANY “Diet”
It’s smart to master “mindful eating” before trying any “diet.”
You’re much more likely to experience sustainable results. Becoming a “mindful eater” before trying any diet will almost guarantee that you keep the weight off long-term.
Most people know that mastering their appetite and eating is often the toughest and most essential part of any diet program. However, few people realize or understand how to gain control of their eating, hunger, and appetite. Mastering “mindful eating” before trying any worthwhile diet helps you to achieve lasting results, quickly and more easily.
Your Hunger Triggers
Becoming a “mindful eater” also allows you to pinpoint whether your hunger is being triggered by boredom, stress, or something else other than your body’s need for nourishment.
You’ll easily be able to tell when you’re using food to meet other needs. Being able to identify your “hunger triggers” is a powerful way to consume fewer calories and better nutrition.
Ultimately, becoming a “mindful eater” allows you to re-establish a healthy and positive relationship with food/eating.
- Mindful eating helps you put a stop to your constant, frustrating battle with food…without restriction, deprivation, or guilt.
- With mindful eating, you can finally say good-bye to overeating, unwanted pounds, and non-stop dieting.
- Mindful eating places you in control.
- It lets you live an exciting, healthy life.
THE EASIEST WAY TO BECOME A MINDFUL EATER
Starting any new endeavor, goal, or habit is exciting.
Too often people become totally immersed in enthusiasm resulting in them biting off more than they can chew. Eventually, the new goal or habit falls by the wayside before it has enough time/practice to become permanent.
Therefore, the best way to become a mindful eater is by adopting and cultivating “one thing at a time.”
Embrace the power of “starting small.” Small realistic goals create sustainable results. That’s why it’s best to adopt only one or two “mindful eating” tactics or habits during any thirty (30) day period.
At the end of thirty (30) days, you’ll definitely have acquired one or two new, powerful, and automatic mindful eating habits. Those initial one or two brand new mindful eating habits become the foundation on top of which you’ll build more habits. So, once you’ve completed 30 days with your new mindful eating habit (s), you then simply select an additional one mindful eating strategy or tactics for the next 30 days. Rinse and repeat the process.
While this might appear to be a slow approach, it is, in fact, quite fast. And, more importantly, your new mindful eating habits will last you a lifetime.
Therefore, if one of your reasons for becoming a “mindful eater” is to lose some unwanted pounds, then “starting small” is the best way to enjoy life-long lasting results without punishing yourself with the latest fad diet.
There’s a ton of information here. Do you have any questions, comments, tips I may have missed? How has mindful eating benefitted you?