I’m a big fan of mindful eating, especially when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
Lots of my clients have tried many diets over the years and have found them all to be unsuccessful - mostly because they haven’t been addressing the reasons why certain eating habits develop, particularly with regards to overeating.
We often eat to satisfy something our mind wants, rather than through actual hunger, and this is dictated by our emotions. If you can change your emotional connection to food, it gives you much more control over how you eat and is a lot easier to sustain compared to a diet. It can help you to choose your response to a ‘hunger’ trigger rather than the default choice being to eat (and often the wrong type of foods too!).
This is where mindful eating really comes into its own. We often eat when we’re distracted and it’s common for us to be multitasking with watching television or using our phones at meal times. Before you know it, you have eaten a lot more food than you’re even aware of and you still don’t feel full.
This is known as ‘mindless’ eating and it has the effect of encouraging us to eat too fast. It takes around 20 minutes for the brain to recognise that you’re full, by which point you may well have eaten a lot more than you actually need to be full. Slowing down your eating makes you think about what you’re eating and it takes away the mindless aspect.
How to Adopt Mindful Eating Techniques
So, how do you actually eat in a more mindful way?
Mindful eating can be a challenge to master, especially if you’re used to eating food quickly and not taking your cues from your body.
Here are a few tips for mindful eating:
- Taking your time eating and not being distracted while you have meals. Rushing through your meals doesn’t just up your chances of getting indigestion; it’s also a surefire way to engage in ‘mindless’ rather than mindful eating.
- Chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing it - the more times, the better. Most of us only chew a few times before we swallow and this doesn’t give much chance to be mindful with your food.
- Putting your cutlery (or at least, your fork!) down while you’re savouring mouthfuls of food means you won’t be rushing meals as much. If it’s in your hand throughout the meal, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll put food into your mouth at a faster rate and not be mindful with your eating.
- Sitting down to eat and not grabbing food on the go gives you more opportunity to be more mindful with it.
- If you can eat with others, it’s even better as you’re more likely to take time over your food as the conversation flows.
- Embracing the colours, smells, tastes and textures of your food to engage the senses while you’re eating and appreciating what you are eating.
- Taking your cues from your body and only eating when you feel physically hungry. This involves being able to tell when you are genuinely hungry or being influenced by other factors. The big thing here is to know when you’re full and to stop eating at this point but with ‘mindless’ eating, this tends not to happen!
- Eating as part of a balanced, healthy diet that enhances your health and wellbeing rather than indulging in comfort foods. Part of this involves recognising how food makes you feel, especially with regards to your emotions.
Doing these things is a good way to replace existing eating habits and beliefs about food so that you can swap them for healthier alternatives. It’s not always easy, especially if you have held these beliefs for a long time.
How Can Hypnotherapy Help?
I see lots of clients for weight loss and we have a lot of success in overcoming issues that have been hindering their efforts to lose weight.
One of the main reasons for this is because we address the underlying reasons why weight loss hasn’t been happening, especially emotional and psychological factors. As well as Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, my ‘Gastric Band’ weight loss hypnotherapy uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and visualisation techniques to encourage sustainable weight loss.
Get in touch with me if you feel ready to take the first steps towards positive change with your eating habits!