How Staying Mindful Helps with Weight Loss

By Rebecca Lindberg, registered dietitian

Staying mindful of what and how much you eat is a key strategy for losing and maintaining weight. In our environment of mega, supersized and mammoth portions, not to mention larger-then-ever plate, package and container sizes, it’s no wonder we’ve been sabotaged into eating more calories than we need. In fact, we live in a culture that makes it easy to eat too much and too often.

For example, have you ever found yourself mindlessly eating while driving, watching TV or cooking? At a certain time every day regardless of whether you’re hungry or not? So fast you forget to taste your own food? When you’re upset, overwhelmed or just plain exhausted?

Yes, most of us have all found ourselves eating mindlessly and shocked back to reality when we find ourselves holding an empty package wondering if the food was even enjoyed, much less tasted. Many people lapse into mindless eating when feeling busy, bored or overwhelmed.

Sound familiar? Now that we recognize it, we can pause and slow down to really taste our food while paying attention to our body’s internal cues to tell us when we’re no longer hungry.  Note: we’re not talking stuffed here. It’s not always easy, but here are a few tips to set you on a path toward mindful eating:

·       Pause for 10 minutes and decide whether you’re really hungry before you reach for a second helping.

·       Sit down to enjoy your food. Skip eating while standing or doing other things that take your mind off of what and how much you’re eating.

·       Stay in the moment. Pay attention to the taste, smell and texture of the food. Enjoy the taste of eating well.

·       Slow down to enjoy your meal. Most people eat too fast and as a result eat too many calories before they realize they’re stuffed.

·       Turn down the lights and slow down the music. Bright lights and fast music can make us eat faster, causing us to eat too much.

·       Consider your plate color. Research suggests that if your food blends with the plate (e.g., pasta on a white plate or green beans on a green plate), you’ll eat more than if there is a high contrast between food    and plate color. In fact, one study found, plates with the highest contrast reduced calorie intake by 10 percent!  Also, the color blue has been found to be an appetite suppressant and while we don’t advocate coloring your food blue, you might try eating off a blue plate as a start.

Staying mindful helps us focus our attention on the present moment. When we’re mindful while eating, there is evidence that it can reduce how much we eat and foster weight loss.