We all know diets do not work. Diets usually mean depriving yourself of something you like. Usually, they are temporary. Those are only the biggest problems. We at The Bachelor’s Kitchen recommend coming up with an eating plan, something you can live with for the rest of your life.
There is a lot of advise about eating: what you should eat, what you should stay away from, how often you should eat, where you should eat, when, what to do while eating, and so on. Usually, that means changing bad habits or forcing yourself to eat foods you might not enjoy very much. That just doesn’t work for most people.
So, what should you do? A new movement in eating may help. It’s called Mindful Eating. What does that mean? It means listening to your own body. Our bodies give us lots of clues about when we are hungry, when we’ve eaten enough and sometimes even what we need to eat. You probably have heard that you shouldn’t be watching television or other things while eating. Doing other things when eating distracts you from hearing what your body is saying, such as, “That’s enough!” Eating mindfully probably will slow you down, giving your body time to register that food has been received, which is one cue to stop eating. Many dietitians point to portion control as a big issue in overeating. Mindful eating can help reduce our quickly gobbling up everything in sight.
One of the great benefits of mindful eating is that nothing is a forbidden food. That overcomes one of the big drawbacks to dieting. The phrase all things in moderation is key here. Food does not come with a moral rating. Even foods that are thought to be bad for you are okay in small amounts as occasional treats. That means you will be more satisfied and less likely to binge. Eating mindfully means thinking of food as a way to take care of yourself, not a command to eat this or that way.
However, just as no food is forbidden, it’s a good idea to keep problem foods out of the house. When you sit down with a snack, make a plate, don’t take the whole bag. And know the difference between a snack and a treat. A snack is something to deal with hunger between meals or before bed, like crackers, cheese, nuts or fruit. A treat is something to reward yourself, something you like but have avoided.
Listening to your body will improve your timing, too. If you wait to eat when your body says it is hungry, you will avoid emotional eating. Just don’t get to the point where you are starving which could lead to overeating. Part of that timing means saving the sweets until the end of the meal. If you’re already full, you probably won’t eat a big dessert.
Eating breakfast is another technique in mindful eating. It gets your metabolism going, meaning you burn more calories. It makes you less hungry at lunch. It helps you think more clearly. Just go light on the sugar, which will not just make you fat, it will make you sluggish within a few hours. Experts recommend a balanced breakfast heavy on complex carbohydrates and protein.
Americans are notorious for having too many things to do in too little time. That means many of us bolt our food. But mindful eating means taking the time to enjoy our food. Not only should we take more time to enjoy our meals, we should not attempt to skip meals because we overindulged in a previous meal or plan to overeat later. Having a smaller meal when you overdo it is a better choice.
Mindful eating means not being afraid of being hungry or eating just to lose weight. If you’re hungry, have a snack. It will prevent you from eating too much at mealtime. Eating to lose weight simply doesn’t work. Changing your eating patterns, foods and proportions does work. The proper eating plan will cause your body to land at the right weight for you, even if that’s not what the tables or others say you should weigh.
As we said before, all things should be in moderation. While we should take time to cook and eat right, we should not become too rigid in our plan. Take time to enjoy friends, family and all the great things in life. Be flexible enough to enjoy it. And don’t punish yourself if you fall off the wagon. Everyone does at one time or another. Just get back on the plan as soon as you can and get on with it. Mindful eating means putting food and eating in its proper place in your life. It must be neither a punishment nor a substitute for something missing in your life.