Mindful versus mouthful

The opposite of carelessly emptying your plate is mindful food. When I first read about this, I thought it was floating, until I experienced how effective and pleasant mindful food can be. Therefore a crash course mindful eating with practical assignments to eat more consciously and to prevent binge eating. And remember: it only works if you really try it out. Only reading does not count.

Just like with mindful living, mindful eating is about being aware and free of judgments. You eat meals with attention to taste and handling. Instead of eating from a TV or laptop from automaticity, you start to observe what you see, smell, taste, and feel. This allows you to eat more slowly, enjoy more and lose weight easier. In short: you are going to build a healthier relationship with food. Below I have five mindfulness techniques
highlighted to take the first steps towards a healthy Weight Loss journey.

Technique 1: become very aware of what you eat

Often people eat in front of the television or are busy with WhatsApp conversations while eating. As a result, eating is no longer activity in itself and overeating lurks. Tonight, sit quietly at the table with the evening meal and first take a good look at the food on your plate. What colors and shapes do you see? What smells do you smell? Then take a bite and taste the flavors. Can you distinguish between sweet, sour, salty and bitter? Which herbs and vegetables do you taste? Feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Is it crispy, soft or firm? Observe everything carefully without judging.

Technique 2: chew each bite at least 20 times

Do you have any idea how often you chew on a bite to eat? You are probably not aware of that at all and chewing is such an automatic process that this technique of chewing at least 20 times will take some getting used to. However, it is incredibly effective! Digestion is better started in the mouth because every bite is well mixed with saliva, this allows your body to absorb nutrients better and you have less chance of a bloated stomach because the digestion is more flexible.

The next time you eat, count how often you chew before you swallow your food. Then try chewing at least 20 times on each bite. Can’t chew 20 times? Then find a pleasant middle ground between your current chewing habits and the desired 20 chews.

Technique 3: take your time

When you start eating it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to get a signal that you are full. Most people already have their plates empty by then and are eating their second plate of lasagna at a rapid pace. Next time you eat, set a timer or kitchen timer to 30 minutes and sit at the table until the timer goes off. Try to eat your meal spread over half an hour and put down your cutlery after every bite.

Technique 4: make the eating experience attractive

Have you ever wondered why fast food restaurants are so similar? It is always very light, brightly colored, noisy and rarely atmospheric. It appears that people in such an environment eat more and especially faster. A fast-food restaurant does not want you to go for an extensive after-dinner meal, but to leave the door with a full belly after fifteen minutes so that there is room for new hungry eaters. If you want to enjoy more and eat less, it’s best to eat in a quiet and atmospheric environment. Try this at home. Empty the dining table completely from newspapers and wipes and set the table nicely as if guests are coming to eat. Turn off the large lamps in the house and light attractive candles. Finally, switch on quiet music in the background, make sure you are comfortable and ready to eat!

Technique 5: eat totally different

You have done so often with a knife and fork that you can do it quickly and automatically. You may have eaten in a Japanese restaurant and held chopsticks in your hands. That makes food a lot harder and your plate probably wasn’t empty in 15 minutes. Or in an Ethiopian restaurant where you had to tear pieces of injera (a kind of pancake from the Teff grain) and thereby grab pieces of vegetables and sauce. The eating experience then becomes completely different and you are forced to eat with more attention. Also, eating with your non-dominant hand or sitting on the floor can make your mind filler handle food.

Food as a legal drug         

After a hard day at work or a big fight with your partner, we are more than happy to pamper or comfort ourselves with a bar of chocolate, a pack of cookies or a good glass of wine. And it works, it makes you feel better! But it is not really a good way to deal with problems and emotions. You only temporarily numb the symptoms of a tiring job or an unhappy relationship. Eating away your negative emotions day in day out can result in binge eating and significant weight gain. Some people use alcohol, tobacco or drugs to feel better, others grab food. It is therefore cheap and accessible to use food as self-medication. If this is a major problem for you, a psychologist can best help you. The following two techniques are effective for tackling binge eating immediately.

Technique 1: take relaxation

Have a nice appetite or feel like sniffing a lot (binge) is an emotional state in which you feel a strong urge to eat. You are then less able to think rationally and are more susceptible to impulsive behavior such as a binge. The most effective method to prevent this is relaxation! Lie on the couch or bed and focus on your breathing for fifteen minutes. Stay really fifteen minutes while you completely relax. There is a good chance that you have repackaged yourself and can make better decisions.

Technique 2: look for distraction

Do not give indirectly to the temptation to plunder your fridge and pantry, but look for distraction until the tasty appetite is gone. Set the timer to 30 or 60 minutes and actively look for distractions. Take a hot shower, turn on a series, update your e-mail, take a walk or call a friend. Having a good appetite is an emotion and emotions come and go. Chances are that the tasty appetite has already been reduced a lot!

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