Diets Make You Feel Bad. Try Training Your Brain Instead.
In today’s society it seems we are constantly juggling multiple things at once, rarely able to give a specific task the attention that it deserves. One of the biggest problems that many people have is eating while distracted, usually through technology.
This inattentiveness can be harmful, especially if it has to do with eating. Most of us love to grab a quick snack while we are scrolling through social media, watching TV, playing video games, or being on the computer. But this can sometimes develop into a habit which can lead to weight gain without a person even realizing it. Before long it can become a never ending struggle with fad diets that don’t work, leaving you back in the same spot as you were before.
There is more than enough evidence out there to suggest that restrictive dieting and rapid weight loss can do more harm than good, making it even more difficult to maintain a steady weight.
So when you begin to eat mindfully, you may start to see the beginning of your weightloss journey coming to fruition. (1)
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is an approach that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness and experience of the food. Mindful eating involves paying attention to our food and has little to do with calories, carbohydrates, fat, or protein intake.
When we actually sit down with our food and concentrate on what we’re eating and how fast, we become more aware of what’s happening in our bodies. The intent is to shift focus to exploring (and enjoying) the eating experience. It is about developing a new mindset around food. It’s important to develop this mindfulness and put it into practice every day in order for it to become second nature to us. (2,3)
How Can I Retrain My Brain To Eat More Mindfully?
When it comes to developing new healthy habits, especially in regards to weight loss, retraining your brain can help. Shifting your mind to become more self aware around eating is a big factor when it comes to weight loss. Practicing mindful eating can improve your overall relationship with food by enhancing your enjoyment of it, reducing overeating, helping with digestion, and alleviating anxiety about food. (3)
One may however wonder, how and where do I start? How do I train my brain for weight loss?
Here are 10 tips that may to get you started:
- Give priority to mealtimes – try to take at least 15 minutes to sit down and enjoy your meal.
- Avoid distractions while eating (with the exception of dining with company).
- Avoid being rushed around mealtimes; schedule time to eat your meal when you have adequate time and are unlikely to be interrupted.
- Always sit down for a meal. Try to avoid eating standing up or in front of the fridge.
- Serve your food onto a plate/bowl. Try to avoid eating food from the packet, ice cream tub, take away container, etc
- Rest your cutlery next to your plate between bites and make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat only until you are 80% full (meaning you are satisfied but not overly full).
- Take time to truly savor and taste your food. Use your senses!
- Ask yourself how you feel about the food you are eating. Do you feel happiness, pleasure, regret, guilt, stress, disappointment?
- Prepare your own meals where possible. The act of preparing food – touching, tasting and smelling – can improve your psychological relationship with food. (3)
Multitasking while eating means we are not listening to the needs of our body. A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that the average American spends 2.5 hours a day eating, but more than half the time, they’re doing something else while they eat. (4)
In order to retrain your brain and achieve weight loss, it’s important to be present in the moment for every meal. The great news is that it’s possible to retrain your brain in this way, to really experience the joy of food, and to lose weight too.
As you begin your journey to retrain your brain around food, it may be helpful to know that other factors may be at play, like hormone imbalance. Click here to learn more about how hormones may be affecting your weight, and what you can do.