Positive change doesn’t have to include major goal setting and doesn’t always need to be able restricting bad habits. Positive change can be simple. For most body transformation can be as simple as applying a mindful eating practice and consciously trying to avoid overeating.
The discussion of benefits of a reduced calorie diet are very mainstream at the moment. I have personally been experimenting with different types of intermittent fasting (and am trying circadian rhythm type fasting at the moment).
In two short weeks I have seen benefit from eating less and less often.
I feel lighter, leaner, increased energy and mental clarity. Of course, these could be placebo as I really wanted to believe in this way of eating. We will see if they are sustainable and worth using clinically after a few months.
Mindful Eating – How I got here
As a former university athlete and military college graduate I have a history of carb heavy, large meals. I needed energy. I burned every bit of it.
My current lifestyle consists of seeing patients all day and involves much more sitting than I am used to. This reduced activity plus potential lack of insulin sensitivity due to years of high sugar eating means my caloric intake needs to be much less than it once was.
Mindful eating is a remembrance for why we are consuming food. It is taking a second to think about where the food came from, how it actually tastes, how it was prepared and what it will do for our bodies (Some think it will be considered a trend in 2017 like clean eating has been over the last few years).
Mindful eating can reduce caloric intake.
During my intermittent fasting trial I have had to be more mindful about the food I am eating. When I need to be disciplined about what time I am eating I have found it important to be more mindful of the meal. I am starting to think I may have been consuming far too many empty calories before, mindlessly.
Here are some of the ways I have made eating more pleasurable and meaningful over the previous two weeks. The result? Improved ability to avoid overeating.
Mindful eating – 5 Ways to make dinner time enjoyable and avoid overeating
Eat nutritious food – get serious about nutrition
When you think about what you are eating and where it came from, how it will affect you, what it is doing to your microbiome and whether or not you will have a sugar crash you tend to make better choices.
Eating a well balanced diet is extremely important. Our range of vitamin and mineral requirements, protein levels and omega 3 demands push us to avoid mono food eating and remind us that junk is just junk.
Prepare your own food – with a passion
When you prepare your own food it tastes better.
If you like things to taste better this is a great tip but there are more benefits. Developing a passion for cooking can improve the health of your entire family. Instead of reaching for the takeout menu the new chef in the house can take the helm.
You get to know your ingredients. You get to experience different flavors. It is challenging. It is rewarding.
You get to pick the portions – you avoid overeating.
Eat a smaller portion than you normally would
When portions are smaller you are forced to enjoy eating each bite with more focus and care. I catch myself doing this at restaurants when I see a smaller portion.
The food always tastes great. And surprise, I’m not hungry at the end.
See the trick here is that it takes a few minutes for our appetite hormones to tell us we are full. By that time we have blown past fullness and overate.
Prepping smaller portions prevents this.
Take your time – are you really in a rush?
Digestion takes energy and resources. It takes time so don’t push it.
When you eating too quickly it is very common to get indigestion. You could pull in oxygen with the food and get hiccups or you could overwhelm your stomach and get heartburn.
Take your time with your food and savor it.
Eat with friends and family
I will finish on this note. Since our baby has arrived nap times have overlapped with our eating times and Amy and I haven’t eaten together every night like we always had.
We are the type of couple who talks about how delicious the food we are eating is and therefore we enjoy the food together.
An important component of mindful eating is to have a partner on the same page. This can help to keep cortisol down while you eat. The stress hormone can negatively impact digestion (Time Magazine wrote about how to stop stress eating just this week). Eating with friends and family can prevent overeating due to a distraction from the television. The emotional connection to who made the food, how it was made and the events that lead to its consumption can significantly improve the experience.
If you have struggled with overeating or are just trying to cut back on your caloric intake these suggestions could be helpful.