Mindful Eating vs. Dieting

Mindful Eating vs. Dieting
How can taking your time in eating make you feel better about yourself? Isn’t the whole idea of dieting centered around picking only healthy foods? Shouldn’t eating a cheeseburger and fries make you feel guilty no matter how quick or slow it is consumed? Eating a plate of freshly steamed vegetables should make you proud of your food choices, right?

Not necessarily.

A cheeseburger can be eaten with a conscious enjoyment of each bite, no judgement, just acceptance of this is what you desire at the moment. You may decide to eat the entire burger and the fries. Or, being aware of your hunger, you may only eat a portion of your meal. You will be satisfied both emotionally and physically.

But, wait! Isn’t that plate of veggies intrinsically better? While it is true that there is less fat and more fiber, if broccoli is not what your mind and body are needing at the moment, then it is not the best choice.

Mindful eating is about paying attention to your body and your mind, in a non-judgmental way, when making choices about food. Choices not made based on calorie counts, but on what you need, emotionally and physically.

If you are craving a bowl of ice cream, I mean really craving it. Craving it so bad that it is all you can think about. Rocky Road, that will make your life perfect. You can feel the coldness on your tongue. Your teeth can feel the crunch of the nuts and the soft, stickiness of the marshmallow. You need to a bowl of chocolaty goodness.

You tell yourself, “No!”, being the good calorie counter you know this is not a food you should eat. 4 oz, 250 calories and 120 of those calories come from fat. So you have a container of yogurt instead.

You like yogurt, is was creamy, it was good, it wasn’t what you wanted.

Crunchy, that’s what you need, so you grab a handful of almonds. You count out 12, that’s 100 calories. You stand at the counter and eat them one after another. You don’t enjoy them, you eat them without thinking.

You tell yourself that was it, you are good. Still, the thought of that bowl of Rocky Road stays in your mind. You continue to think about how it will taste, it may not be that day, but soon you head to the store, grab your pint of Rocky Road and eat it all. Then the guilt sets in.

What if you just ate the ice cream when you wanted it. Mindfully. You sat down with no distractions. Just you and the ice cream. You place the first spoonful in your mouth. You allow it to melt on your tongue, the sweetness is just what you needed. The next spoonful has some nuts and you take pleasure in crunching them between your teeth. The act of chewing releases tension you didn’t even know you had. The third spoonful is still good, but you notice the pure happiness of that first bite is not there. After the fourth spoon you decide you have had enough.

In this case, the ice cream was the best choice to make. Mindful eating encourages you to choose food based on what is nourishing and pleasing to your body and your mind. When you listen to your inner nutritionist, you will tend to make the best choices 90% of the time. You will eat based on nutritional / physical hunger vs. eating based on emotional or habitual hunger. If you ignore the craving you often end up eating more calories than you would if you just honored your craving in the first place.

I challenge you to trust yourself and eat what you desire. Take your time when you eat, sit down (that doesn’t mean in the car while you are driving), and savor each mouthful. Pause when you have finished half your meal. Set down your fork and ask yourself “Am I still hungry?” If you are continue to eat. If you find you are satisfied then end your meal.

Mindful eating is not a diet. You won’t lose 10 pounds in 10 days. But I promise you, you will find your natural body weight and you will enjoy your food more.

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