When is the last time you went on a diet? Maybe you cut out all sugar, starting drinking special shakes, or cut calories. No matter what you did to lose weight, the one thing that most diets have in common is that they’re temporary.
On average, we stick to a diet for less than six weeks. Sometimes it’s too limiting, or maybe, having achieved our goal weight, we go back to “normal’. All we know for sure is that the overwhelming majority of weight loss diets are not sustainable, and some aren’t even effective.
But there is one “diet” that you can stick to forever, without negative side effects or special meal plans - mindfulness.
Don’t buy it? Actress Kathy Bates has a message for you. The Oscar winner has lost a staggering 75 pounds, and says she’s never felt better. That’s after surviving cancer - twice.
But Bates isn’t pushing supplements or lauding a specific superfood. The key to her weight loss success is mindful eating.
What Is Mindful Eating?
If you’ve practiced mindfulness for any stretch of time, mindful eating is easy to understand. Rather than scarfing down whatever’s available in whatever amount of time we have to eat, we simply take our time and pay attention to our food.
Eating becomes a ritual that takes place in the present, instead of an emotional reaction or another chore on the to-do list. This way, we begin to tune into our true hunger signals, and can more easily tell when we’re full.
Over time, our senses may become so sharp that we start to find processed foods filled with preservatives unpalatable.
As a result, the weight comes off naturally. It’s not a quick fix, but a lifestyle. Bates, for instance, lost the weight over the course of a few years. But unlike other diets, where our weight tends to yo-yo, the pounds are not coming back.
How to Eat More Mindfully
If you want to try mindful eating, here are a few tips to help you establish the habit.
- Before you eat, consider how hungry you are, if at all. Are you just bored? Sad? Anxious? Recognize this, even if you haven’t yet broken the habit of reaching for food in these times.
- Sit down to eat. Avoid eating “on the go” whenever possible.
- Put your fork down in between bites. This prevents us from routine, mindless
- When taking a bite, think about the following: flavor, texture, temperature. Note all three attributes.
- Chew your food twice as long as you normally would. As a bonus, this improves digestion.
- If you want to use mindful eating as a weight-loss tool, be watchful of your portions. You’ll know what amount is just right after you practice tuning into any signals that you’re full. As Kathy Bates says, “At some point when you’re eating, you have this involuntary sigh and that’s really your brain and your stomach communicating that you’ve had enough. The trick is to pay attention to that and push your plate away.”
Since we already enjoy practicing mindfulness while working and playing our singing bowls, we’re excited to start eating mindfully, too. Do you practice mindful eating? Leave any tips you have in the comments!