Mindfulness and Weight Loss Reviews Reviews

Mindfulness and Weight Loss

We are all currently aware of the crisis of obesity in this country.

Obesity and its associated diseases are on the rise in both adults and children. Diabetes is becoming rampant.

The solution to the crisis of obesity does not lie in the discovery of some miraculous diet.

Of course, if scientists could discover a magical pill that would control people’s weight, then that would be a solution. However, that is not likely to happen in reality.

The problem with diets is that people who go on them do not permanently change their eating habits.

They might lose weight in the short run, but, over the long term, they simply gain it all back. This is the case with the vast majority of people, unfortunately.

What is needed is a method of eating that will help people regulate their weight in a reasonable, healthy way.

They need a method to help them understand how to eat reasonably.

There is a tradition of behavioral regulation in the East called “mindfulness.”

This method may not be a magical cure to shed pounds rapidly, but it can go a long way in helping people understand their eating patterns.

When they understand their eating patterns, they can learn to eat only when they are truly hungry and also learn to eat only to satiety.

Research has shown something very interesting about the way that people eat.

It is known that people who eat even when they are not hungry are more susceptible to external cues that trigger their eating.

For example, they might eat when the clock says that it is time for dinner.

They eat, even though they are not truly hungry. People who eat as a response to true hunger tend to eat more reasonably.

Mindfulness is a way of getting in touch with our body’s true feelings of hunger and satiety. I

It is not a diet in the traditional sense. It is not a diet, really, at all.

Mindfulness is about mastering control over your mind.

It is not only ancient wisdom that says that mindfulness may help with weight loss.

A study led by a professor at North Carolina State University with rigorous controls indicated that mindfulness can help people shed those pounds. [1]

Eating mindlessly has become a way of life in our society; it has contributed to the epidemics of obesity and heart disease that plague us. [2]

We shove food into our mouths without fully tasting it or even realizing what we’re eating.

Mindfulness and eating should be inextricably linked so that we savor the taste, the texture, and the process of eating.

Being mindful of what you eat will help you recognize your body’s signal that you’re full and can stop eating.

Since you’re more aware of what you’re eating, you’ll eat foods that are healthier, you’ll eat less, and your body will become healthier. [3]

What Is Mindful Eating?

When you eat food mindfully, you register the consistency of the food against your tongue and the pressure of your teeth grinding together.

You feel and take note of the expansion of your stomach as you eat. You slow down the eating process to register every step.

When you practice mindful eating, you start to understand the emotions that you feel that motivate you to eat.

You become aware of everything that happens while you are eating.

This is probably the most important part of mindful eating. Everyone knows that they tend to eat when they feel stress or boredom.

Instead of mindlessly behaving, you become keenly aware of everything.

When you mindfully eat, you respond consciously to your hunger. You don’t simply react without thinking.

When you practice mindfulness while you eat, you’ll improve the eating behaviors that may have deteriorated over the course of your lifetime.

Combining mindfulness and eating behaviors means that you’ll devote full attention to the food in front of you, and by savoring each bite, you’ll eat more slowly and therefore eat less.

No more eating dinner while watching television; your mealtimes will become almost a meditative process as you focus on the food and your surroundings. [4]

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The Benefits of Mindful Eating

Although not intended as a diet, mindfulness eating often results in a reduced BMI because the individual eats less but gets the maximum nutrition available from food.

Mindful eating may help you:

  • Become aware of how what and when you eat
  • Understand true hunger and fullness
  • Eat when you are hungry
  • Pay attention to different senses
  • Enjoy and savor your food
  • Understand emotional triggers

Since mindfulness makes you more in touch with your body’s needs and signals, you may find you’re more emotionally healthy and your thought processes improve.

Although it’s not necessary to change your diet, you may find that by focusing on the food you’re eating you begin to prefer natural, unprocessed food rather than the chemical-laden, highly-processed fast food you typically consume.

For all the above reasons and more, try eating mindfully and see if you don’t reap some of the mindfulness eating benefits. [5]

Weight Control

Mindful eating puts you in touch with your body and helps you lose weight by learning to eat only to satisfy hunger.

However, weight loss is not the only benefit that you will accrue. Mindful eating helps you get in touch with what your body’s true needs are.

You will become sensitive to your overall sense of well-being and will notice if something needs to be changed in your diet.

There are some studies that have shown that mindful eating strategies may aid eating problems.

A study on binge eating and mindfulness was conducted at Indiana State University.

The results of the study were that mindful eating helped people enjoy their food and reduced the sense of struggle they had with controlling their eating. [6]

Learning to Deal with Stress

Chronic stress can be a cause of overeating. Mindful eating puts you in touch with the causes of your overeating, the emotional causes.

Instead of reacting automatically to stress by eating, you can learn the patterns of stress in your life and find productive and healthy ways of dealing with it.

Instead of putting a poor bandage on your stress problem, you can think about what your stressors are and eliminate them or deal with them properly.

Get More Satisfaction from Your Food

Mindful eating also can increase the pleasure that you get from your food.

When you practice mindful eating, you pay attention to the pleasure that you are receiving from your food.

Try to think about whether or not you truly appreciate your food now. You probably robotically consume your food without letting it register.

When you pay attention to your food, you will gain the pleasure of noticing every delicious nuance of the flavors and textures.

What is also the case is that you will need less food if you gain more satisfaction from it.

No More Diets!

As was mentioned before, mindfulness is a permanent solution to your eating problems.

Instead of yo-yo dieting, you can eat a reasonable diet and be truly satisfied. You won’t have to deal with hunger pangs anymore because your body naturally knows when you don’t need any more food and when you do need more food.

Mindful Eating and Diabetes

Studies reported in Obesity magazine by Dr. Jennifer Daubenmier indicated a positive link between mindful eating and diabetes.

Mindful eating encourages attention to the food and the process of eating it: enjoyment, satiety, taste, and texture.

By attending more to the process of eating the food and the characteristics of the food, we’re more likely to control the amount of food we eat as well as the type of food.

Social activities, such as watching the game or attending a party, are triggers for mindless eating, which can eventually lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Mindful eating discourages overeating; this discourages obesity, which can cause diabetes. [7]

How to Eat Mindfully

Although not designed as a dieting aid, mindful eating to lose weight can help achieve weight loss while improving your health.

Dr. Carolyn Dunn from North Carolina State University reported recently that those who were instructed to eat whatever they wanted but to eat it mindfully had better results at weight loss than those who were placed on strict diets.

Since the participants had no food restrictions, they didn’t feel deprived. The only restriction was that the participants eat mindfully. [8]

Additionally, study participants were less likely to regain their weight because they had changed their eating habits so that they ate less.

Research into mindful eating revealed that when an individual imagines the taste and texture of, for instance, a piece of cake, it activates the same brain receptors that are activated when they eat the food.

This can reduce cravings and significantly impact the daily calorie intake, which will facilitate weight loss. [9] [2]

Tips for Mindful Eating

Reduce Your Stress

Mindful eating requires that you manage your stress in other ways besides eating. You can help control your stress by practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, or getting a massage.

Keep a Food Diary

When you start to take notice of the different things that trigger your eating, you should record them in a diary that will help you plan for the future.

Keep a record of everything that you notice about your eating. You will start to see the patterns.

Try not to Eat on Autopilot

This is the essence of mindfulness. You need to be conscious of all of your eating behavior.

Slow Down While Eating

One thing that is important to notice is that it takes some time after you put the food in your mouth to feel full.

If you slow down your eating, your body will have a chance to keep up with your eating.

Watch Those External Cues

As mentioned before, try to notice if you eat every day around the same time on the clock.

You shouldn’t be eating just because it is suppertime.

Mindful Eating

Although it’s a learned behavior, mindfulness about eating will become second nature if you practice it.

Too often, our meals take less than 20 minutes, sometimes less than ten.

This eating behavior encourages poor health, diabetes, and obesity.

When satiety has been reached, the signal doesn’t get to the brain for up to 20 minutes, which means you can significantly overeat without realizing it.

Mindfulness about eating will slow your intake, your digestive system won’t be overloaded, and you’ll eat less. Mindfulness will also help you to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

Mindfulness and Compulsive Eating

For mindfulness to be effective, there must be a desire to change.

Begin by setting aside one place, other than the couch, where you’ll eat and eat only there.

This will dissociate food from other areas of your home.

Set the table as if you were expecting company even if you’re eating alone.

Add a full glass of water and drink it as you eat. This will contribute to feelings of satiety.

Use small plates. This will necessitate small portions; don’t put the serving dish on the table or you may be more tempted to have seconds.

Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. This will enable you to learn your body’s signal that it needs no more food and you’ll feel full sooner.

When you practice mindful eating, you’ll eat more slowly and become more in tune with your body.

Since mindfulness is a form of meditation, you’ll become more aware of your body overall, which is essential for eliminating compulsive eating habits. [10]

Mindfulness Eating Challenge

If you want to learn mindfulness eating, you might be interested in a mindfulness eating challenge.

Recent studies have indicated that those who practice mindfulness eating habits eat smaller servings of food and have healthier eating patterns.

A mindfulness eating challenge isn’t a diet.

Rather, it’s a behavioral change and after the five or ten days of the challenge, you can revert to your former habits or maintain your new ones. There’s no obligation either way. [11]

Mindful Eating to Lose Weight

To achieve lasting success with weight loss, we must adapt our relationship to food.

Rather than viewing food as an escape to someplace else, we need to start viewing food as an experience in and of itself.

It’s not to say that we won’t occasionally overeat, almost everyone does at one time or another.

However, a mindfulness weight loss program will minimize the overeating episodes and enable you to eat less so you’ll lose weight and keep it off.

Losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution that is frequently discarded without achieving lasting success.

A mindfulness weight loss program can help you change your eating habits so that you achieve permanent weight loss. [12]

The concept of mindfulness-based weight loss was developed, in part, to help combat the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Stress and emotions are considered largely responsible for these two health disorders, so developing an intervention for them was essential.

Practicing mindfulness when eating is the first step in helping to overcome the process of mindless eating that is often associated with self-esteem and other emotional issues.

When you learn to concentrate on the taste, texture, and aroma of your food and chew it thoroughly, you gradually become acquainted with your body and its signals, which is the first step in practicing mindfulness. [13]

Mindfulness In Weight Loss

Several concepts of mindfulness in weight loss apply to all aspects of our lives and can improve our self-esteem and our interactions with others.

Those concepts include a non-judgmental attitude, acceptance of others, striving to be the best we can, trust, and patience.

As we apply these concepts to others, however, we need to apply them to ourselves.

The meditation and mindfulness in weight loss will facilitate the development of these characteristics and we’ll learn to accept ourselves as we accept others.

We don’t have to be perfect; we just have to make an effort to be the best we can and accept that most others are trying to do the same.

Mindfulness starts us on the journey toward loving ourselves the way we are, which will help us achieve weight loss because we’ll quit using food as an emotional compensation. [14]

Meditation and Weight Loss

Another Eastern tradition that is in the same family as mindfulness is meditation.

Meditation, the practice of focusing your attention to find calm and clarity, can help you manage your stress levels. As we have said, stress is one of the major factors that drive people to overeat.

In a certain sense, meditation is sort of like mindfulness writ large.

Meditation helps you become more aware of your thoughts and actions, including those that surround food.

Research has shown that meditation can help relieve both binge eating and emotional eating. [15]
[16]

Developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller, mindfulness-based eating awareness blends mindfulness meditation with mindful eating exercises to create an awareness in the individual of their eating habits compared to their eating needs.

This program doesn’t endorse a particular diet.

Instead, it emphasizes the lifestyle and the specific eating habits of the individual.

Many people with eating disorders eat while watching television, reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, and aren’t aware of what they’re putting in their mouths.

Mindfulness-based eating awareness emphasizes a focus on the food, the process of eating, and the surroundings, rather than on external stimuli. [17]

Most types of meditation have four things in common: [18]

Quiet location

Choose your favorite quiet place to meditate in. Maybe this will be in your favorite chair or on your regular walk.

Comfortable posture

You can meditate when you are sitting, lying down, or on your daily walk.

Focused attention

Choose a particular word or phrase, or focus on your breathing.

Open attitude

Try not to get too wrapped up in anything else or any other thoughts while you meditate. Your focus should be on the meditation itself.

Meditation needs a certain type of disposition. Instead of judging, simply become aware and become witness to your thoughts and feelings. Try to quiet your mind. Let the whole thing unfold without judgment.

As a daily meditative practice, try to take 30 seconds out of each day to notice what’s in front of you. Live in the moment and be present for those 30 seconds.

Yoga and Weight Loss

A recent trend that is common among many stars and athletes is using yoga for weight loss.

Yoga is a sophisticated mind-body exercise that can both help you tone up and maybe change your outlook on life.

Yoga isn’t that effective as an aerobic exercise. Even walking burns about double the calories.

However, many practitioners believe that yoga can help people shed extra pounds.

In the same way, that mindfulness and meditation can help you tune into your body, so can yoga.

Yoga helps you get in touch with what is occurring inside of you in a non-reactive fashion.

This aids in developing a relationship of mind to body, and eventually to paying attention to how you eat.

Also, yoga makes you more adaptable to influence for change. If you think that you wish to change your lifestyle, including your attitudes towards food and eating, then yoga will give you the spiritual link to your body to help you move towards change. [19]

This mind-body connection can help you become more aware of what you eat and what it feels like to be full.

In this way, it is very similar to mindful eating and meditation. [20]

Power Yoga

There is also a form of yoga that doubles as an aerobic workout.

Traditional yoga is based on breathing techniques combined with static poses. Power Yoga pairs meditative breathing with faster movements.

Aerobic exercise is an exercise in the presence of oxygen. So, when you do the traditional yoga breathing along with the more extreme movement, it becomes a real aerobic exercise.

According to some experts, even Power Yoga is not as beneficial from a cardiovascular point of view as a real aerobic workout.

For this reason, it is advisable to combine a traditional aerobic workout with the practice of yoga.

What everyone agrees with is that yoga can be a great introduction to the world of exercise and fitness.

To get started doing yoga, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Practice in a room that does not have mirrors in it.
  • Try to experience the sensation of your movements. Be mindful of your motions.
  • Combine your yoga session with positive self-talk.
  • Stick to your schedule. Don’t slack off.
  • Look for a teacher that inspires you and you are comfortable with.

Final Thoughts on Mindfulness and Weight Loss

We’ve discussed three related health and wellness practices.

  • Mindful eating
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

All three of these practices are designed to create a tight mind-body connection.

These health and wellness practices derive from ancient Asian traditions that have been helping people for thousands of years to lead a more healthful and spiritual life.

While you can practice simple forms of these practices by yourself, it is advisable to find a gifted teacher to help you to perfect your abilities.

The goal with all of these practices is to develop a lifestyle that is not dependent on extreme and ineffective measures that only work in the short term.

The idea is to develop life-long habits and practices that will work with the way that your body naturally behaves to make you more balanced and healthful.

When you improve your relationship with food, you’ll improve your physical and emotional health.

Many of us use food to compensate for other emotional issues but mindfulness reconnects us with our inner being. [21]

We become more aware of our surroundings and our food, which results in healthier eating habits and a renewed enjoyment of eating without experiencing guilt.

Even though mindful eating isn’t a diet, it will reshape your relationship with food which can result in weight loss through mindfulness. [22]