Lilian Chueng, D. Sc., RD is the co-author of Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. She writes about attaining a healthy weight while leading a life that is more satisfying by practicing mindful eating–paying attention to what and how we eat.
Instead of dieting, which is difficult to adhere to, regularly practicing mindful eating becomes rewarding in many ways. Aside from losing weight by consuming smaller quantities of higher quality foods, mindful eaters find themselves gaining energy, emotional stability, compassion, gratitude and joy through learning to enjoy and appreciate food more. Mindful eating is a principal that creates a healthy relationship with food and also speaks to the compassion, joy and giving of the holiday season.
The 7 Principles of Mindful Eating
1. Honor the food. We take food for granted because it is so easy to attain. As you prepare and eat your food, remember where it comes from and how it came to you. Think of how it was grown–the sun, the rain and the farmers who cultivated it–and also the drivers who brought it to the store and the supermarket employees who made it accessible to you. It’s really had quite a journey! Do you feel gratitude?
2. Engage all your senses. Notice the beauty of food, how it smells, tastes and feels. Think about all the variety in flavors and textures in the meals you eat. How do you feel when you look at and eat your food? Do you feel differently when you eat a home-cooked meal versus a fast-food meal?
3. Be mindful of portion sizes. Large portion sizes drive intake of too many calories which leads to weight gain. Don’t allow “your eyes to be bigger than your stomach.” Start with a modest portion size on a plate no bigger than 9-inches. We have the innate desire to want to fill our plates–so using a larger plate means you’re more likely to eat more.
4. Chew. That sounds easy! Focus on chewing your food thoroughly and not eating too fast. The longer your food is in your mouth, the more you taste it. When you swallow your food, you no longer taste it. Chewing thoroughly also helps begin the process of digestion.
5. Eat slowly. Yes, you’ve heard it before. But how often do you practice it? Eating slowly allows you to take more time to chew and taste the food you’re eating. It also gives your stomach a chance to signal your brain that it is getting full, so you eat less.
6. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals usually backfires, causing you to get hungrier and eat a larger portion at one sitting than you would at multiple meals spread throughout the day. Eating regularly also helps keep blood sugars stable and the metabolism working, assisting with weight management and loss. Cheung suggests an energy-sustaining breakfast containing whole grains, protein and whole fruit.
7. Eat a plant-based diet. Chueng notes, “Research shows that eating red meat increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. A recent study by Harvard School of Public Health also found that red and processed meats may contribute to weight gain.” Plant foods are very nutritious, low in fat and high in fiber.
Watch Dr. Cheung discuss the 7 Practices of Mindful Eating here.
Are you ready to try mindful eating? Challenge yourself! The holiday season is the perfect time to start. I think you’ll be rewarded.
Source: Huffington Post
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