Lose Weight with your Intuition: A Guide to Eating Mindfully8 minute
As millennials in 2021, we’ve come across fad diets like keto, water fasting, paleo and many others. However, two recent buzzwords that are being embraced by the mainstream include Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. Don’t mistake it for a diet-type.
Instead, more than a diet, these two buzzwords are a new approach to consuming food. Picture this, you’re at a house party having a great time with your friends, and you just keep munching on anything and everything that comes your way. Before you even realise it, you’ve had a little of everything that’s on the table. After all this if you ask yourself why you’re not losing weight, the answer is simple. That’s because you’re eating mindlessly even when you’re full.
If you’re looking to lose weight fast without hampering your relationship with food, you should practice intuitive or mindful eating.
In this blog, we have you covered with all the information you need about these two very new approaches to eating.
What is Intuitive Eating?
As mentioned earlier, intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to eating. It allows you to incorporate mindful practices when it comes to consuming food. This means, you don’t eat for the sake of eating. The rules are simple – you eat when you’re hungry. Honestly speaking, we’re born as intuitive eaters. However, as we grow up, the way we eat changes. There are various external factors that control the way we eat.
Think of babies, they cry when they’re hungry and stop the minute they’re fed. They cry again when they need to eat. There’s no schedule as such. Instead, they only eat when their body needs energy. This is intuitive eating. When you’re mindful about your food choices, your relationship with eating improves. The technique allows you to become more aware of your body, food selection, satiety cues, and improves your mental and physical health.
Once you start practicing intuitive eating, you’ll experience reduced stress, lower rates of emotional eating and higher levels of contentment.
Therefore, don’t look at it as a diet. Instead, see it as a mindset. It will strengthen the connection between your mind and body, and heal your relationship with food which in turn is linked to health and wellness.
What is Mindful Eating?
Though the term mindful eating is used interchangeably with intuitive eating, they differ in their approach. As mentioned, intuitive eating is all about eating when your body sends internal signals rather than relying on external cues such as dieting rules or restrictions. On the other hand, mindful eating is being aware of the food and drink you put into your body. It is all about observing how food makes you feel.
In the humdrum of everyday life, mealtimes are often rushed for most of us. Thankfully, because of staying indoors due to the pandemic, we’ve become more aware of our food choices. However, most of the time, we find ourselves eating on-the-go, on the couch while watching TV or at our desk in front of the computer screen. As a result of this, we tend to eat mindlessly, shoving food down our throats regardless of whether we’re hungry or not. We basically eat to satisfy our emotional needs and to cope with stress or any other factors. This kind of unhealthy ‘mindless’ eating results in weight gain. We’re not saying mindful eating is perfect and you need to count your calories each time you eat or anything. Rather, it’s only about focusing on your senses and being mindful when you buy, cook, eat and serve your food.
Practicing intuitive eating alongside mindful eating is the best way to lose weight. Of course, both these frameworks cannot be established overnight. However, start with baby steps. Once you’re there, you’ll never go back to eating the same way like you would earlier.
Eating Mindfully: A Beginners Guide
When you sit to eat your meals, you consume calories without even realising it. You simply eat because your body needs energy and is asking you to refuel. That’s one major reason you’re not losing weight. When you become more aware of your meals, slow down, pay attention to your food and savour every bite and sip you take, weight loss begins. It’s all about making mindful eating decisions.
If you’re new to this concept, fret not. We have you covered with all the steps that will make the journey to eating mindfully a smooth and fulfilling one. There are no major rules. It’s all about taking control.
8-Step Guide to Mindful Eating
- Start with your Shopping List
The first step to weight loss begins in the supermarket. Don’t just mindlessly add things to your cart. Be aware of what you need. You could also consider the health value of every item. Toss a bag of chips for a healthier alternative. Try and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Focus on weight loss foods and fresh produce.
- Use all your Five Senses
An important technique to master mindful eating is being fully aware of what you’re shopping, cooking, eating and serving. Employ all your five senses while doing so. See how ingredients look, how they give out their flavour as you chop and cook them, if they crackle and sizzle and ultimately how they taste when you savour them. Doing so will help you develop better eating habits.
- Develop an Appetite
To become a conscious eater, you need to feel hungry. Even before you get to the table, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. If you are eating out of boredom, habit or emotion, there’s no chance you can facilitate weight loss. These external factors instead tend to make you overeat. Therefore, eat only when you’re hungry.
- Avoid any Distractions while Eating
We’re in an age where we all tend to eat with distractions. However, this habit is doing more harm to your body than good. When it’s mealtime, focus on the food. Turn off the TV, keep your phone away and don’t look at any work, book or magazine till you’re done. Distractions often make you binge eat. Another tip to mindful eating is enjoying a meal with your family. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed might sound cool. However, nourishment begins when you eat at the table with your family.
- Appreciate your Food
When the food is in front of you, appreciate it. Take a moment to express your gratitude for having a meal on the table and a roof under your head. There are a lot of people who don’t enjoy this privilege. When you bite into your food, pay attention to the texture, shape, colour and smell.
- Take Small Bites & Chew Thoroughly
Don’t be in a hurry to gobble your food and run back to work. For the food to be digested perfectly, it needs to be consumed in small bites. It’s all about portion control. Start with small quantities. Listen to your stomach. Eat till you’re full and put your spoon down once you really feel satisfied. Also, chew your food slowly, at least 20 times. This aids in digestion and prevents any bloating from occurring.
- Know your Body’s Hunger Signals
Though the approach is referred to as mindful eating, it’s more important to turn to your body rather than your mind while consuming food. Don’t let stress, frustration, sadness and boredom make you eat. Instead, recognise your body’s signals. If you’re low on energy, your stomach is growling or you’re feeling low, maybe you need food to replenish your body’s nourishment. Real mindful eating is actually listening to your body signals for hunger.
- Mindful Workout
Weight loss isn’t only about mindful eating. It is about working out mindfully as well. Whether you enjoy walking, yoga, dancing or weight lifting, invest yourself fully into it. Don’t workout to burn calories or achieve a certain target on your fitness band. Instead, focus on getting your blood pumping and invigorating your senses. To synchronise your mind, body and nervous system, you don’t need to workout for hours. Even a 30-minute brisk walk will do the trick. Once you become aware of every movement, you can add variations to feel stronger and more capable.
Benefits of Practicing Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a tricky space. For most of us, it may be even unrealistic to think that we can be mindful while having a bite of everything we eat. Owing to work pressures and tight schedules, adhering to strict practices while eating can be difficult. However, it doesn’t have to be stressful. You can start by taking a few deep breaths before eating a meal or eating only in response to hunger signals.
Once you start listening to your body and feed it when it asks you to, you’ll experience greater satisfaction from your food and be on the path of weight loss. Here are a few more benefits of mindful eating:
- Makes you feel empowered: Mindful eating gives you greater control of your body. When you block out external cues and distractions, you feel more empowered with your food choices.
- Promotes weight loss: Mindful eating and weight loss go hand in hand. From eating without distractions to slowing down during mealtime, incorporating mindfulness leads to natural portion control. This means, you eat only how much your body can take. In this process, you will be able to manage your weight better.
- Enhances the eating experience: Mindful eating is all about getting immersed in the eating experience. By doing so, you’re more likely to block out unhealthy food options and choose foods that will be good for you in the long run.
Simply knowing the rules of mindful eating aren’t enough. You need to start making mindful food choices to become more attuned to your body. When you fully explore your relationship with food, you will be able to shed more calories. For beginners, mixing and matching certain foods is the best place to start. You could also remove certain foods such as coffee, sugar and flour from your body to see how this affects your mood. When you keep a record of what you’re eating and track what makes you feel fit mentally, physically and emotionally, that’s when you will be able to lose weight with your intuition.