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Can Mindfulness Help You Shed Pounds?

Happiness, Health, Stress

Can Mindfulness Help You Shed Pounds?

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mindful eating for weight loss

It is 8.30 in the morning. I have 12 Unread Mails, 5 files on my desk, 3 meetings to attend, 1 cheese wrap in my hand, and ‘Zero’ attention to what I am eating! How familiar is this story? Isn’t that your story at office every morning? Do you even remember what you had for lunch yesterday or how you broke your fast this morning?

I ’m sure, you don’t! This is how bad the state of our eating habits and patterns are. We have no time to pay attention to what we eat, when we eat, how we eat and most importantly –  ‘how much’ we eat! ‘How much?’ is a magical question that has all the answers hidden in it. This ‘how much’ determines:

  • How much we eat (Obviously!)
  • Whether we overeat
  • Or under eat; and
  • How much weight we put on

Half the battle is won, if we, somehow, are successful in manipulating the question ‘How Much?’ and the easiest way to do that is to carry out some ‘Mindful Eating’!

What’s Mindful Eating?

To be mindful is to be fully aware of the present moment, accepting it without judging and without being carried away by emotions. Mindful eating, which is mindfulness and eating coupled together, refers to eating in the most alert manner possible.

Can Mindfulness Help Me Shed Pounds?

Oh Yes! Mindfulness can help you shed those extra pounds you always wanted to! It can help you take charge of what you are eating, how much you are eating and as a result help you achieve full control over your eating practices.

Ways to Eat Mindfully to Lose Weight

When we do not eat mindfully we end up eating a lot or very little or eating the wrong kind of food. Following are tried and tested ways to fix these issues and to lose weight by eating mindfully:

Sensible use of senses

Use all your 5 senses while having your meal. Observe the color of the strawberry milk shake, smell the mint in your sandwich, hear your sizzling brownie go “zzzzzz”, touch the bread and feel its softness and taste every morsel of that pasta that you put into your mouth! (Hold on! I forgot am helping you lose weight! Grin.)

All I mean to say is, use all your senses and be mindful of what is on your plate and what’ is going into your stomach via your mouth. This will help you decide then and there, how much to eat and whether to eat it at that particular moment.

For instance, the smell and the feel of the cheese on your Pizza might tell you it’s loaded with calories and would impair digestion if eaten at night! Got it? With mindful eating, be it cheese or chocolate – nothing can make you put on unnecessary weight!

Ready! Steady! STOP!

Keep this short mantra – “Ready, steady, stop” in mind and you will be able to master Mindful Eating in no time!

  • Ready: Prepare yourself before you begin a meal. Leave aside all the work and worries, turn off the TV and laptop, put aside the phone, keep that book for bedtime and just make yourself available to eat-what you love doing the most! Remove all distractions and alert yourself about the meal time!
  • Steady: Settle down on the dining table (and not on the bed, work table or sofa) properly before starting to eat. Grab all the essentials you would need during the meal, fix a place for yourself, sit there and close your eyes. As you close your eyes, extract all your attention from the various places and people it has been on and get it all at the dining table, onto your plate. Take 3 deep breaths and focus on what you are going to eat and only then begin the meal. Use the 5 senses technique here!
  • STOP: Remember how we munch on tubs after tubs of popcorn in the movie theatres? That’s exactly where mindful eating will help us STOP! If you eat mindfully, as suggested above, you will very well know when to stop, as you would no longer be eating while watching your daily soap on TV, answering your e-mails, chatting on your phone or reading that mystery novel! Your body will give you a clearly understandable signal as to when you need to stop and you too would be alert and available to follow it!

I’m a Food Journalist!

Become a Food Journalist! Maintain a journal of whatever you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat and the feelings accompanied with it. This will help you develop a strong connection with whatever you are munching and will also help you observe effectively, what works for you and what not!

Benefits of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating has done a whole lot of good to people who have practiced it genuinely.

  • According to the Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL) study, mindful eating showed statistically significant reduction in obese individuals’ weight, BMI, depression, stress and C-reactive protein levels. [1]
  • Good news ladies! A trial carried out on 35 women of Austin, Texas; showed a decrease in weight and waist circumference! [2] I know you’ve already imagined yourself in those skin-tight denims!
  • Are you an overweight diabetic? Oops! Did it hurt? Well then, heal it using mindful eating! A study on diabetic adults showed that training in mindful eating and diabetes self-management facilitated a noticeable improvement in their dietary intake, modest weight loss, and glycemic control. [3]
  • Mindful eating helps us make conscious food choices, develops awareness for hunger and satiety and cultivates self-acceptance as a result of which we stop making a pig of our self! [4].

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Such a simple way to lose weight and we have been chalking out plans after plans to lose weight since always! Well, I’m not done yet! I have good news for the skinny-leanies! Just as Mindful Eating can help you lose weight, so can it help you gain weight! Stay tuned for another post from me on that very soon! Till then, eat mindfully and see the miracle come into being!

Do let me know how much weight you lost!

References

[1] Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, Sloan AL, Leahigh L, & Begay D (2010). Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary therapies in medicine, 18 (6), 260-4 PMID: 21130363. ^Back to Top^
[2] Framson, C., Kristal, A., Schenk, J., Littman, A., Zeliadt, S., & Benitez, D. (2009). Development and Validation of the Mindful Eating Questionnaire Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109 (8), 1439-1444 DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.006 ^Back to Top^
[3] Miller, C., Kristeller, J., Headings, A., Nagaraja, H., & Miser, W. (2012). Comparative Effectiveness of a Mindful Eating Intervention to a Diabetes Self-Management Intervention among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112 (11), 1835-1842 DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.036 ^Back to Top^
[4] Kristeller, J., & Wolever, R. (2010). Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training for Treating Binge Eating Disorder: The Conceptual Foundation Eating Disorders, 19 (1), 49-61 DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2011.533605 ^Back to Top^

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Last Updated: June 19, 2014

Next Scheduled Update: August 20, 2014

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