Do you want to ditch dieting for good but aren’t sure what to do instead? Mindful eating may be just the answer you have been seeking. Consider that 95% of dieters gain back the weight they’ve lost within five years. As a therapist at the Cleveland Clinic for over 12 years, I’ve seen the emotional and physical damage fad diets have done to my clients. Fad diets often warp your relationship with food, fill you with shame and guilt, damage your metabolism and generally make eating a struggle. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! Food is meant to be enjoyed and to nourish you, not fill you with anxiety and regret. I’ve written seven books on the topic of Eating Mindfully including a recent New York Times Bestseller, EatQ and 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. It’s my passion and mission in life to teach others what mindful eating is all about.
The good news is that clinical studies have shown mindful eating to help people feel better about their bodies, prevent weight gain, cope with problematic eating (like binge eating disorder and bulimia), eat 300 less calories a day, reduce their body mass index, and most importantly have an overall better relationship with food. Mindful eating is not complex or expensive program. Read this list to discover some of the most important behaviors and mindshifts made by a mindful eater. If you are a dietitian, health coach, therapist or health care provider, I want to welcome you! Mindful eating is an effective tool to teach your clients! (Click here if you are a professional to get 3 free mindful eating handouts for your clients).
1) Mindful eaters don’t eat until they are “full.” Full is an overused and misleading term. Mindful eaters tend to eat until they are no longer hungry or feel satisfied. There is a big difference. By the time you perceive yourself to be “full,” it is often too late, you’ve overeaten. If you’ve dieted for years, your hunger and fullness signals may be crossed. Don’t worry! Mindful eating can help rewire your brain to know what genuine physical hunger feels like and to spot emotional eating. (Click here to learn more about the Mindful Eating Pledge Program: a 5 Week program to learn one mindful eating tip each day).
2) Mindful eaters pace themselves. This is not easy. We live in a world that stresses instant access and hurrying—eating is no exception. Mindful eaters tell themselves to “slow down” or try to check in with their pace. Intentionally shifting into a reasonable pace is often easier said than done. Here are some tools to help (click on my blog and tools section).
3) Mindful eaters are “Choosy.” While mindful eaters may seem like picky eaters, they are often just very discerning about the choices. Mindful eaters really taste food and if they don’t like it, they don’t eat it, just like picky eaters. Also, they aren’t afraid to tailor food to their particular taste. At restaurants, a mindful eater may ask the wait staff to make a few tweaks to their order like holding the bacon or asking for Swiss cheese rather than Cheddar.
4) Mindful eaters are forgiving and flexible. Yes, mindful eaters overeat on occasion! What they don’t do is obsess and beat themselves up as much as dieters. Mindful eaters know that tomorrow is another day and can “let it go.“ Often the strategy is to adjust the amount you eat at the next meal or snack. They don’t give up! (Click here to see the Motivational Mindful Eating Program: 28 Days to Get Started & Stick With It).
5) Mindful eaters tend to gauge their hunger first before taking a bite. Being in the moment and fully present is key to mindful eating. Take a brief moment to ask yourself before taking a bite, “Am I really, really hungry? What I am feeling right now is…” This can help prevent you from walking into emotional eating. (Click here to take the Stress Eaters Quiz and get personalized feedback)
6) Mindful eaters break out of old habits. When you know what habits keep you stuck like multitasking when you eat or nibbling while anxious, you can devote more energy and attention to these particular areas. Sometimes it is changing how you eat more than what you eat.
Is it worth it to adopt these habits? Yes! Hundreds of thousands of people have done it and so can you. To learn more about how a mindful eater thinks and feels feel free to visit my books and programs. I want to teach you everything I know and have taught my clients. Sign up here to receive more tips and be sure to “Like” my Facebook page.