Mindful Eating for Weight Management

In my health coach training, integrative health specialist Dr. Joel Fuhrman stated that if you pay attention while eating, you can lead your body to the perfect weight; that your body will tell you how much to eat if you listen to it.  This really struck me because with all the weight loss plans that you see advertised, it's never about being mindful and paying attention as you eat.  Further research on the subject of mindful eating  supports Dr. Fuhrman's assertion that being mindful while eating is a great way to manage your weight and your health- for life!
So often we eat mindlessly.  We stuff food in our mouths while driving, watching TV, reading the newspaper or at our work desk.  Not only is the pleasure of eating missed when you eat while your mind is on something else, but you also miss the satiety signals that the body is sending.  It takes practice but watching for feelings of fullness as you eat can be learned.  Many times we eat so fast that we miss these signals and overeat, only to be very uncomfortable later.  Or we eat while distracted which doesn't give us half a chance to succeed.  The body sends signs that it is in distress from too much food such as gastric reflux, excessive gastric distension (that" I ate way too much feeling"), indigestion which presents in many different ways, and being lethargic.  The body works best when smaller amounts of food are eaten slowly and mindfully.  Here are a few tips to slow you down to listen for the signals from the body (remember that this takes continued practice).
  1. Start with an intention to eat slowly and mindfully.  In Asian cultures they call it Hara-hachi-bu.  The intention to eat until one is satisfied, 80% full, but not stuffed. 
  2. Take a couple deep breaths before eating to slow yourself down.  Many times we enter a meal harried and stressed.  Calm your body down before you begin to eat.
  3. Put your utensil down between bites and chew your food thoroughly.  Chewing food thoroughly improves digestion and helps you eat less as you sense the feeling of fullness before you have overeaten. 
  4. Concentrate on the food while you are eating.  Notice the taste, the textures, and the pleasure.  Registering pleasure helps you be satisfied with less food.  This happens at restaurants when eating with friends as you share small plates of savory foods.  It seems like a small amount at first but when eaten mindfully, enjoying every bite, it's just enough.
  5. Pay attention to how you feel after you have eaten.  In time you will feel wonderfully light and satisfied but not umcomfortable and lethargic.  
Remember that good habits take time to cultivate.  It's a trial and correction process to develop a habit but it's worth the time.  Just think- no more diets, just enjoyable, mindful eating pleasure and a healthy body too!