Mindful Eating: Maintaining Your Goals When a Fad Diet Isn’t Working for You

Written by Matthew Rigberg, LHMC

Matthew Rigberg, LHMCConsider the following story as it relates to this week’s piece.

Mike’s younger brother’s wedding is in February and he’s decided that now is the best time to start shedding a few pounds to look great at the ceremony. The problem is that Mike has tried multiple diets in the past and none have worked. He thinks it mostly stems from the fact that it’s hard for him to maintain them. Mike finds it easy at first but consistently notices that he slips back to his old eating habits. Mike believes that the problem lies in his ideas about weight loss in general. He wonders, “Am I missing something or are there a few steps I can take to get through it?”

Mindful Eating

I think it’s fair to say that we all have an ideal weight where we can feel good about the specific number and be content with our appearance. For many, myself included, this goal is a fairly consistent presence in our thoughts and actions that, more often than not, influences our eating habits, which can include indulging and withholding. And, of course, to help us get to our goal weight or through the persistence of our physician, we gravitate toward diets: a rigid set of rules that prohibit us from eating certain things.

Now, this piece will not argue against a balanced diet, though I would like to introduce a different approach to body maintenance. One that accentuates the mind/body connection: mindful eating.

Having a goal and sticking with it can be a challenge, especially when we arent accustomed to tackling them on our own. Rice Psychology Group can help you set realistic goals and follow through with them!

What is Mindful Eating?

Use your senses to choose food that is both satisfying and nourishing for your body. Click To Tweet

Mindful eating may sound relatively straightforward on the surface, but there’s actually a bit more that goes into it. Consider the following:

  • Be aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available in food selection and preparation.
  • Use your senses to choose food that is both satisfying and nourishing for your body.
  • Acknowledge responses to food (likes, dislikes or remaining neutral) without judgment.
  • Become aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.

This list was adapted from information provided by The Center for Mindful Eating.

Another way to think of mindful eating is to consider it as being personalized eating. This acknowledges the uniqueness in our tastes and that healthy eating looks different for everyone. Further, it focuses on the varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why. The goal of mindful eating is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort.

A Few Suggestions

Become aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating. Click To Tweet

Check out this list of five introductory principles, according to Huffington Post, that can help you get started in going in this new direction:

  • Slow down – The most important facet of mindful eating is intention. Slowing your consumption allows you to be more in tune with your body and being better able to notice the signals it sends to you. This prevents overeating and emphasizes the complexities (And deliciousness!) of food.
  • Understand your body – If you find yourself in the midst of a craving, ask yourself if you’re responding to an emotional want or your body’s needs.
  • Attend to your plate – It’s not uncommon to eat with the TV on or while using mobile devices. Consider making mealtime an electronics-free zone. When we are distracted, it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about food and other needs.
  • Pay attention to flavor – Whether it’s the tanginess of a lemon, spiciness of arugula or crunch of a pizza crust, paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully.
  • Know your food – The Cornucopia Institute has a wonderful section of scorecards for dairy, eggs and cereal that can help you make thoughtful decisions in regards to what you buy at the grocery store.

Staying on Track with Your Goals

Another way to think of mindful eating is to consider it as being personalized eating. Click To Tweet

Naturally, these suggestions serve as an entry point to mindful eating. I encourage you to try to implement a couple of them into your daily eating routine. Of course, if you would like to delve deeper into mindful eating, the mind/body connection and adopting significant life changes, Rice Psychology Group can help. Contact us today in Tampa to learn more about our services and how they can help you.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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