There are many quotes such as “Food is fuel, not therapy” and “Eat to fuel your body, not to feed your emotions” and so on. While these quotes sound nice, dealing with the actual problem is much tougher. Millions of women around the world eat as a form of self-medication. They’re experiencing a range of emotions that they’ve not come to terms with or they’re subconsciously avoiding. Eating acts as a form of stress relief or temporary pleasure to numb the pain. These are the 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.
Emotional hunger is often mistaken as real hunger. No amount of eating can fill up the emotional void. It just worsens the situation because the woman gains weight, feels unattractive and experiences guilt and other negative emotions.
So, what does she do? She eats, even more, to feel better. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends unless one proactively seeks to end it. Mindful eating is one of the best ways to deal with this situation.
It’s important to know the signals of real hunger. When you are truly hungry on a physical level, your stomach will feel empty and you may hear rumbling or grumbling noises in your belly. You may feel lethargic, faint or even a mild headache. Some women may even feel nauseous.
Your moods may fluctuate for no reason and you might be more irritable or prone to anger. If you’re working, you may find it hard to concentrate. These are the symptoms of real hunger. If you find yourself experiencing them, it’s time for a meal.
Now let’s look at emotional hunger. Emotional eating occurs due to certain triggers. It is extremely useful to have a food journal to write down what you eat and how you’re feeling while eating. Over a period of time, you’ll notice patterns emerge.
For example, you may find yourself snacking more whenever you’re facing tight deadlines at work. Or you might be binge eating at nights when you have marital problems or relationship problems with your spouse/partner. There will always be emotional triggers that make you reach for food to feel better.
There are a few questions that you MUST ask yourself whenever you want to eat.
- Is it real hunger or am I just tired?
- Am I thirsty or hungry?
- Am I eating because I’m sad and lonely?
- Is my stomach growling for food?
- Am I eating to avoid doing some job that I need to complete?
- Will I feel guilty after eating?
- Am I bored and eating to occupy myself?
These questions will help you figure out what is the real reason you are eating when you aren’t really hungry. You must identify the root cause so that you can deal with the problem effectively and put an end to it.
If stress is making you eat, you’re better off with stress reduction techniques like meditation or watching a comedy or it’s boredom, you can always pick up a new activity.
You may have noticed that when you’re having fun or very busy, it’s common to go hours without eating and not realize it. The mind is occupied and has no time to think about food until the stomach starts growling.
This should give you a clue about dealing with emotional hunger. If you feel like eating but know that you’re not hungry, you need to distract your mind. Engage in some activity that is interesting or fun. Do not vegetate in front of the TV. That is a passive activity that will encourage more eating.
You may wish to take a walk or read a book or even get a massage. Or you could try an interesting activity like learning the piano or playing a video game or volunteering at an animal shelter.
Pay attention to your emotions and see how they affect your eating habits. Get straight to the root of the problem and find out what is triggering your emotional hunger and fix it without using food as a tool. Over time you’ll eat for fuel and not therapy. You’ll shed the excess pounds and look fitter and healthier. So try these 10 mindful eating habits that you should adopt.
So What Actually is Mindful Eating?
Thousands of women all around the world have adopted mindful eating as a way to shed excess fat and get healthier. It’s also very effective for getting them to feel better about themselves. So many women experience guilt and other negative emotions after eating foods that they think/know they shouldn’t.
Mindful eating is about exploring your relationship with food and discovering why you eat what you eat and if you’re really even hungry or just using food as medication for your emotional problems.
Mindful eating is all about and some of the practices in it. Let’s look at these are the 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.
1. Eating slowly and mindfully
We live in a hectic society where people eat hastily giving nary a thought about what they’re eating. Women who are juggling careers and family may find that they just grab a snack or a bar of chocolate eat it without even thinking twice about it. They just needed that little perk up in their busy day.
Eating mindfully forces you to slow down and ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you really hungry or are you just bored and tired? It is very common for busy moms who are exhausted to just walk over to the fridge, grab something from there, heat it up and drop themselves on the couch and eat while they take a much-needed break.
It’s like they’re on autopilot and the food is just for comfort and to make them feel good. The problem here is that these same women may be trying to lose weight and get back in shape post-pregnancy. They know they shouldn’t be eating unnecessarily and yet they do it.
Mindful eating will arrest this problem by making you question why you’re eating. You’ll have less guilt and be less likely to eat when you’re not hungry. You won’t be prone to weight gain and your health will also improve. Your relationship with food will get much better and you won’t be constantly thinking about food. So try these 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.
2. Recognizing Hunger Cues
Mindful eating will break the autopilot routine mentioned and force women to ask themselves if they really need to eat. Just asking this question alone is enough to break the pattern and make you think twice about eating it.
Eating to distract yourself or cover up your emotions is quite something else. If you’re full but you’re still eating, there is an underlying emotional issue. It could be stress, depression or boredom.
As discussed before mindful eating is about knowing the difference. It requires you to pay attention to how your body feels. You also need to pay attention while you eat. Do you feel pleasure? Relief? Are you enjoying the food you’re eating or are you gorging yourself without knowing why?
The answers to these questions will give you a better understanding about why you eat and the food choices you make. It’s these revelations that make mindful eating so powerful. It turns the act of eating from an automatic response to one where you’re thinking while you eat.
3. Healthy Relationship with Food
Ultimately, the goal is to create a healthy relationship between food and you. Food is meant for sustenance and fuel. The occasional treat is meant to make you feel happy, satisfies and nourished.
You should not be feeling guilty after you eat. So many women suffer from this problem because they eat without thinking. Their actions are not controlled. They respond to their bodies’ demands and cravings without stopping to ask themselves why they feel this way.
The woman who is craving for cake the whole day may raid the fridge at night and eat 4 or 5 slices till she feels sick and knows she overdid it. Guilt takes over and she feels like she has let herself down yet again.
Over time, she loses confidence in herself because of all the times she has failed. She then resigns herself to her fate of being overweight because of her lack of discipline.
With mindful eating, the woman will ask herself why she craves cake so much? Is she addicted to sugar? What does eating the cake do for her? Will she feel better?
Upon thinking, she’ll realize that she is probably going to feel guilty and hate herself later? But why? Did she let herself down?
Wouldn’t it be better if she just ate 1 slice and drank a tall glass of water and called it a day? Of course, it would.
If she does that, she’ll be proud of this little accomplishment. She exerted control and ate mindfully. With this confidence, she’ll approach eating the same way the next day and maybe eat just half a slice and so on.
This is exactly how mindful eating works. Like the name suggests, it’s all about mindfulness. To know what you’re eating, how you’re eating and why you’re eating this way. It’s a mental, emotional and to some extent, a spiritual journey. Once you start observing yourself, you’ll be better able to make positive changes to your eating habits and become healthier. Make mindful eating a part of your life.
Mindfully eating is not only about cultivating a healthy relationship with food but it’s also about choosing the right foods to make you feel better and look better. When you give your body the nutrients it needs, it will not constantly develop hunger pangs. Weight loss will also become much easier.
4. Getting Your Macronutrients Right
There are 3 micronutrients that every woman needs to get in just the right quantities – protein, fats and carbs. 30 percent of your calories should be made up of protein. 40 percent should be carbs and 30 percent fat.
This ratio of macronutrients will promote effective and safe fat loss. If you wish to accelerate your fat loss, you could drop the carbs to 20% and raise your fats and protein to 40% each.
The goal here is to know what your macronutrient ratio is and mindfully eat according to the ratio.
5. Not All Calories are Equal
The calories that you get from eating a slice of cake will be very different from the type of calories you get from consuming some sweet potato. Even if both foods contain the same amount of calories, the cake will contain sugar, additives and other chemical ingredients that you aren’t even aware of. The sweet potato being a natural food will have no such ingredients.
What does that mean? It means that the sugar in the cake will be addictive and cause you to crave more sweet foods because your body is hooked on sugar. If you’re eating mindfully, you must be aware that even if the calorie count is the same, the ingredients in the food can have very different effects on your body.
Oily foods leave you feeling happy and you crave them more. The same applies with sugary sweet foods. Foods high in protein and beneficial nutrients will leave your body feeling satiated and less likely to develop food cravings. The type of calories that you consume matters and directly impacts your mindful eating.
Replacing fatty meat with lean cuts of meat is another great way to improve your diet. The taste will mostly be the same so you won’t be giving up too much. Instead of eating hamburgers from junk food outlets, you’re better off eating a lean cut of beef.
You’ll feel satiated and the protein from the lean cut of meat is exactly what your body needs. Try and get lean cuts of any type of meat you consume. When eating chicken, remove the skin. Boiling, roasting and grilling are always better than frying.
Eggs are great for keeping you healthy and preventing hunger cravings. Many women who eat 2 eggs a day for breakfast often lose more weight and have more energy. The protein in the eggs are responsible for this. Since eggs are tasty, you can eat them without worry but try not to eat more than 3 a day.
6. Controlling Your Carbs
The cornerstone of all successful weight loss is carb restriction. Even endurance athletes aim to get their calories from fat to prevent a physical dependency on carbs. Ideally, most of the carbs you eat should be complex carbs.
The less carbs you consume the better your body’s insulin control. Contrary to popular belief, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, moderate and high-fat diets (ketogenic diet) lead to greater weight loss than low-fat diets.
Eating carbs is much more detrimental. They spike your insulin levels and promote fat storage. That’s why cutting your carbs is one of the best things that you can do to lose weight. However, you do not want to cut it out totally.
Diets like the Atkins diet which are extremely harsh because of the severe carb restriction can cause cravings. So, this is not conducive to mindful eating and you’re bound to cave in and binge on carbs later on.
The molecular structure of the carb will determine if it’s simple or complex. Cakes, candy, ice cream, sweetened fruit juice, etc. are all simple carbs. They’ll cause your body to release insulin and convert the energy to fat. Over time, the high glucose intake may cause you to end up getting diabetes because of the constant insulin production in your body.
7. Metabolism Boosting Foods
There are some foods that naturally boost your body’s metabolic rate and give you an added edge in burning more calories and increasing fat loss. Some of the best metabolism-boosting foods are almonds, apple cider vinegar, celery, coconut oil, cinnamon, green tea and spinach.
There are many other metabolism-boosting foods too. You can do your own research and find out what they are. The goal here is to get some of these foods in your daily diet so that you can speed up your metabolism and burn more calories at rest.
8. Breakfast or Intermittent Fasting
There is a lot of debate on this topic. Is it better to skip breakfast and eat later in the day or is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
There is no right or wrong answer here. When you’re eating mindfully, you need to pay attention to the signals your body is giving you. If you’re lethargic and listless in the morning because you’ve not had breakfast, then you should eat something light. Women who eat breakfast often notice that they have less food cravings and more energy. They’re also less likely to regain the weight they’ve lost.
However, if you’re not hungry in the morning and only feel like you need food about 4 or 5 hours after you’ve woken up, that’s fine too. The key is to listen to your body and eat when you’re truly hungry.
Now that you’re aware of a few of the principles of nutrition, apply them in your mindful eating journey and you’ll reap the rewards. Always aim to progress slowly and don’t try to make changes overnight. Mindful eating is all about questioning your eating habits and making small, beneficial changes that work wonders in the long run.
9. Fibrous vegetables
This is a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is that many women hate their veggies. The good news is that you can eat as much fibrous vegetables as you want without worries about gaining weight.
Fibrous vegetables will take up a lot of space in your stomach and make you feel full faster. When eating, it’s best to slowly chew and swallow all the veggies first. Your stomach will get full faster and you’ll be less likely to overeat the other foods. The end result is better digestion, less calories consumed and weight loss.
A few examples of fibrous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets, cucumbers, spinach, watercress, green beans, okra, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, collard greens, celery, turnips, bean sprouts, etc. So, mindfully choosing foods promote better health and fitness like Balance of Nature products.
10. Watch Your Portion Sizes
Always ask yourself if you’re eating too much. This pause to analyze how much you’re eating will keep you focused and centered. You may wish to drink a tall glass of water before eating. It’ll help you feel fuller and aid in better digestion. You’ll be less likely to overeat. Another technique would be ordering an appetizer as your main meal. If you choose a dish with large serving size, offer to share it with someone else. You’ll then eat less and the food will not be wasted. These are just a few of the common challenges that so many women face when they adopt a mindful eating lifestyle. So now is your time to try these 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.
Many women struggle to lose weight because of food cravings. Their bodies are not getting the right nutrients and they’re addicted to sugar and other harmful ingredients. By slowly, replacing the foods with healthier alternatives, the cravings will subside. This is how you can try these 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.
The excess weight will also melt off since it becomes easier to lose weight when there are less toxins in the body and fewer insulin spikes.
These are just a few of the common challenges that so many women face when they adopt a mindful eating lifestyle. While simple in concept, it is not entirely easy. Being aware of the challenges and thinking about them will help you overcome them much more easily. Eating well is a form of self-respect…So, do remember to make small changes for the better in your diet when you’re eating mindfully. And this is priceless. So now you can try these 10 mindful eating habits you should adopt.