Want to slim down -- slow down!

I’ve got a great way to slim down. Eat sloooowwwly. That’s right, slow it down. 

Here is my challenge – notice how long it takes for you to consume your meal. On average its 7 minutes

That’s not good news since it takes roughly 20 minutes for the stomach and brain to register fullness. 

By the time your brain can process what’s going on in your stomach, you’re onto your second or third helping.

Want to slim down -- slow down!

Scientists have noted that people who eat more slowly, referred to as mindful eating, maintain their optimal weight with ease because they eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full.Those who eat mindlessly are more prone to weight gain.  

Most of us can figure out when we’re hungry, but stopping before you’re too full is a whole different challenge.

Recently I participated in a “Mindful Dinner.”

Here are my insights of eating mindfully that can help you with your weight, wellness and health goals.

The rules were simple. You selected all of your food and beverages ahead of time, and you spent the dinner time in complete silence. The dining room setup that night is still a cherished and vivid memory. Candles lit the room in a warm, red-orange hue.  

At first it was strange not to be engaging in chitchat with people around you. Initially, we exchanged somewhat awkward smiles and then settled into enjoying our meal. Without the usual meal time distractions – cell phones, radio, TV, conversations – our attention was drawn to the food

The first thing I noticed was that I was more self-conscious about the speed with which I eat. I am sort of fast eater. During this mindfulness dinner, I had time to think about and savor my food, a rare exercise in culinary awareness.

Since there was nothing else to do, I spent more time paying attention to the aromas, texture and taste. I took smaller bites and allowed the food to sit in my mouth for a longer period of time as my taste buds sensed spices and sweetness. As I sipped the wine, I let it roll around my tongue, the woody flavor of the chardonnay rising to the occasion to complement my food.

My first revelation was that by eating more slowly, I felt full and satisfied after having consumed a little more than half of the food on my plate. As I looked around at the end of dinner, I found that every single person had plenty of food still left on their plates, and yet, once we could talk after dinner, everyone noted with astonishment how satisfied they felt.

Its proved that mindful eating works for stress eating as well as for people who just want to learn how to control total calories through awareness of satiety.  

What I find interesting about this approach is that instead of concentrating upon what you’re eating, you’re paying attention to how you eat

When you do that, you can’t help begin to question the quality of what you eat, resulting in a shift from the usual grab and go fare to tastier, savory whole foods.

Want to give Mindful Eating a try?

Here are some simple ways to slow it down as you both enhance your eating enjoyment while shedding some kilos:

1. Meditate for 10 minutes every day.  

Get into the habit of slowing down your thoughts and impulses and just “be.” Mindfulness meditation is like an exercise in mental aerobics. You’re training your mind to tune out distractions and pay attention to your breaths, and to inner thoughts of peacefulness.

2. It also helps to practice yoga. 

A 2009 study done by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those who routinely practiced yoga did indeed weigh less than even gym-goers and walkers. Yoga practitioners are used to paying attention to every breath, and apparently every bite, too! It pays to be mindful of every mouthful.

3. Make the emotion—stress-eating connection

Every day, journal the over-eating triggers you’re discovering as you become more observant of your meal time and snacking habits. You’ll find that the emotional triggers span the spectrum from sadness to elation. Be aware that you are vulnerable and be prepared to neutralize these impulses with mindfulness.

4. Decrease distractions. 

Turn off the TV and radio, try not to eat while you’re sitting in front of a computer, driving to work, rushing onto a plane or talking on the phone. Yes, I know. Our lives are filled with all of these distractions and more. It’s silly to think that we’re just going to drop all of these interruptions and live like a yogi. I’m just suggesting that you tone it down some and be acutely aware of what this kind of lifestyle is doing to your body as you mindlessly pack on extra weight.

5. Be aware of whether you’re truly hungry or your appetite is out of control.

Physical hunger is a biological drive and addresses the issue of “I need food to survive.” Appetite is a psychological drive that revolves around “I want to eat.” When they work in harmony, you’re in luck. 

For example, when you wake up in the morning feeling good and hungry since you ate a healthy dinner before 8 pm and had nothing to eat after that, you’re now prepared to have a savory, nourishing breakfast. You’re truly hungry (stomach is growling) and you know what you want. It’s when appetite wanders off on its own that you rack up extra calories.

6. Before you eat, focus on your hunger level. 

Be aware of how it feels when you’re truly hungry and your stomach is empty. As you begin to eat, pay attention to what your stomach feels like as it begins to fill with food. Give yourself a hunger number and desired fullness number you want to be at when done. 

7. Create a “speed bump”.

Divide your food in half. When you reach the half, pause for 2 full minutes and check in with yourself. Estimate how much, if any food you need to reach your desired fullness level.  You don’t need to measure or count – your own body needs are the best radar for the portion control. Needless to say it helps you rein in those calories.

8. Savor every bite. 

Take time to be aware of the amazing sensations of smell, taste, texture and visual presentation of the food.

9. Bite and pause

Take a small bite and then simply pause. During that pause, savor your food and reflect on how your stomach is feeling.

10. Practice in challenging situations.  

It’s amazing how persons, places and things can hasten our eating speed. Meal time conversations, wild music, alcohol, large plates and eating out with others can cause us to speed up our eating. Be aware of these challenges and proactively prepare to neutralize the impulse to eat faster by increasing your mindfulness.

11. Reap the rewards.  

Practice Mindful Eating approach for a month. Monitor your body measurements and I’ll guarantee you’ll see a positive change within those four weeks. For a real win-win, you’ll also probably notice that this mindfulness is spilling into other parts of your life, from how you organize your time to relationships.

Mindfulness is all about improving the ability to savor not only your nourishment, but every moment of your life.

Need help in implementing mindful eating steps. Join my mindful eating coaching to address weight gain using eating mindfully approach.


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