At BootCampSF in San Francisco, we understand it is no secret that the holiday season makes keeping fitness goals a challenge. Extra pounds are happy to accompany you to that holiday party followed by another… and then another. But what if you want to avoid overeating and keep the extra weight at bay?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being acutely aware and in the moment. We often live our lives with thought after thought distracting us from being present. Maybe you are worried about missing a deadline at work. Or maybe you get stuck rehashing a conversation that happened days ago. Whatever the case, there’s a disconnect between your mind and body. Mindfulness is all about noticing when these thoughts carry us away and then coming back to the now.
Mindfulness is important to practice while eating because it allows you to really savor each bite and enjoy the experience of eating. In moderation and with control. Studies suggest mindfulness can help improve eating habits. Mindfully consuming food may also help those who gain weight due to binging or stress eating.
Here are 6 tips for mindful eating
Pause and notice.
Before you take your first bite, take a moment to notice how you’re feeling. Maybe you’re stressed? Feeling sad? Bored? Or even genuinely hungry? Do you really need to eat or just want to? Learn to recognize the difference. After you’ve paused for a few moments, then decide what you’ll have to eat.
It’s much harder to appreciate your food, or keep track of what you’re eating, when you are on-the-go. So even though we have been told to sit less and stand more, when it comes to eating, we should always be sitting.
Chew 30 times.
Concentrate on the flavors and textures before swallowing. Chewing numerous times may prevent overeating by giving your gut time to send messages that you are full to your brain. And 30 is a rough guide (it may be tough to chew your mashed potatoes more than a few times).
Eliminate screen time
Distractions like the TV or your phones keep you from being aware of what and how much you’re eating. Also, switching off the TV during meals can help you lose weight because the sound of your own chewing makes you eat less, studies show.
Put down your fork
Most often, we have a habit of preparing our next bite before we’ve swallowed the previous. So try setting down your fork after each bite. Then don’t pick it back up until you’ve completely finished what is in your mouth.
Try not to let too many hours go between meals
Make an effort not to let yourself get to the point of starving before deciding to eat. You are way more likely to eat quickly when you famished. And carry around an easy snack like almonds or fruit to tide you over until mealtime.
Of course, there will be times that you have to rush through a meal to get to an activity or an appointment. But if you can practice mindful eating on a regular basis, it can help you reach your weight-loss goals. So the next time it’s time to eat, pause, take a breath, and have a seat. Savor the moment. Your body will thank you.