The Benefits of Eating Mindfully
You may have noticed that there is a lot of focus on mindful eating lately, but are you aware of the benefits of eating mindfully?
It may sound like woo, or some kind of hippy dieting method, but mindfulness and mindful eating are actually solidly backed by science- that’s why I love it!
Not only can you get serious return on your time investment, but mindfulness and mindful eating can benefit any health concern. I often counsel clients with diabetes, gut concerns, or struggle with weight on the benefits of mindful eating and they are pleasantly surprised that the process is both straight forward and doesn't require restricting any foods.
If you're interested in mindful eating but you're not sure if eating consciously is going to work for you then keep reading...I've got four reasons why you need to give it a try.
Mange portions without measuring
We've all tried various forms of point driven, tiny container centric, and volume measuring plans to master the perfect portion. What if you could toss all of the counting and measuring out the window and still reach your ideal weight? You can!
Mindful eating involves using your awareness of hunger and fullness signals to know exactly when enough is enough. I once had a client tell me that her goal was "to be able to walk away from the table with food left on my plate!" I'm happy to report that after a few months of consistent practice she was able to do just that- she even learned that her perfect cookie portion was a mere one cookie with a glass of milk. By taping into her hunger and fullness quotient she was able to control the mindless snacking and over eating that was keeping her from losing that last ten pounds.
The fact is that most of our portions are determined by the size of the plate, the package, or the deal you get when you super-size it. The practice of mindful eating teaches you how to listen to your body and be confident that you can stop eating when you have had enough.
Finally, less GI pain
If you are like many of my clients, you are making certain sacrifices just for the pleasure of eating. Sacrifices like feeling good, fitting into your clothes because you are frequently bloated, or even skipping social events because you just never know how you’ll feel.
My favorite client GI success story is the tale of a lovely bride who was terrified of her wedding day. Since her teenage years she experienced bloating, gas, and reflux so bad that she not only struggled to enjoy eating, but she was suffering from multiple signs of malnourishment. As her big day approached she was sad that she would have to forego indulging on her special day.
The number one reason that many women experience digestive issues is the baggage we bring to the table. Daily stress, worries about the impact of the food you're eating, and rushing through meals to get to the forty other tasks on your to-do list are literally shutting down your digestive system.
Conscious eating means being present and making time to eat at meal times and work at work times. It seems simple, but taking the time to be present at meal times is a struggle that many people can't seem to beat.
Oh, and the bride? She was able to wrangle her stress enough to enjoy her gourmet meal without any complications!
Conquer the scale
I can confidently say that weight management is a happy side-effect of mindful eating for many people. The premise behind mindfulness is listening to your body, the more you observe your hunger and fullness signals, choose foods that help you to feel energized and healthy, and simply slow down the easier it is to maintain your ideal weight.
Most clients identify weight loss as their primary goal on the intake paperwork, but after a few sessions other goals begin to come to light- goals like having a better relationship with food.
To eat mindfully is to lose weight without dieting, enjoy foods that nourish, and feel confident about your food choices. Those are pretty damn good side-effects if you ask me.
Balance hormones, the rest follows
Everything your body does is driven by hormones, from moods and energy levels to weight and metabolism, and every other process in between. Hormones are running the show and unless there is a problem we don't really think about it, but hormone balance is the key premise of mindful eating.
When you tune into your hunger signals and eat before you get hangry you are using your hormones. Slowing down and staying present at meal time keeps stress hormones for interrupting the digestive process, which in turn leads to healthy gut, boosted immunity, and optimal health and wellness.
The leading cause of many chronic conditions is insulin resistance including diabetes, weight gain, and even complications during perimenopause. In order to keep insulin resistance at bay it's essential to manage the day to day hormone fluctuations that comes with eating processed foods, large amounts of food, and unbalanced nutrients.
A recent client was struggling with fatigue and she had just assumed that it was the beginning stages of perimenopause at 38. After implementing mindful eating strategies at just one meal a day she began to notice that her energy was slowly returning to normal. Hind-sight being what it is, she realized that by eating her lunch at her computer she was always in a stressful state and often over eating processed food as a result. Simply making the effort to pack a lunch and eat it in the park was enough to get her back on track.
Mindful eating for optimal health & wellness
As you can see, mindful eating is a simple strategy for managing a number of debilitating, costly, and life altering conditions and all of these techniques can be implemented into any lifestyle.
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