Mindful Eating for Weight Control
You’re on a diet. You’re waiting in the checkout line in the supermarket. You’re starving. Unless you get something to eat NOW you’re sure you’re going to waste away. So you grab the nearest thing – a chocolate bar. You pay for your shopping, stagger to the car park, open your chocolate bar and wolf it down in seconds. Afterwards you don’t really remember eating it or what it tasted like, and you certainly don’t remember enjoying it. Sound familiar?
A lot of the time when we eat, we eat quickly, or we eat paying no attention whatsoever to our food. As a result our body has no time to evaluate how it’s feeling; our stomach has no time to say ‘Stop eating! I’m full!’
As a consequence we eat too much. Because we eat so quickly and thoughtlessly, we’re cut off from the signals our body sends to our brain.
In recent research it has been found that neurons line the stomach and the gut, giving rise to scientists calling the stomach the ‘little brain’. These neurons in the stomach talk to the neurons in our brain – so, maybe it’s time we started paying attention to our ‘little brain’, but how can we do this?
Eating mindfully is one way we can get back in touch with how our stomach is feeling. It takes around 20 minutes for food to travel from the stomach to the ileum, which then sends a message to the brain telling it that the stomach is full. So, in order for this message to get through we need to eat more slowly.
Remember as a child we were told to chew every mouthful of food 100 times? Well, that may be a little impractical, but the benefits of chewing food thoroughly are real. The enzyme ptylin is released in the saliva after chewing. This enzyme is released only in the mouth and is essential to the breakdown of carbohydrates. Without this enzyme other parts of the digestive process can’t work so well. So, thorough chewing is essential.
What do you do when you eat your evening meal? Are you watching television, reading a book, playing games on your computer? Eating mindfully means giving your food your whole attention, putting any other distractions out of your mind, and focusing totally on the task in front of you. So, the next time you have a meal, take a few moments before you start eating to look at your food, appreciate it, smell it, think about where the food came from, be grateful for your food.
Then, before you start eating, just take a minute to recognise what’s going on in your body. What are you feeling, and where are those emotions sitting?
When you take the first mouthful, take a few moments to appreciate the textures, then chew your food thoroughly, appreciating the taste to the full before swallowing.
If you approach every mouthful like this, you will be eating slowly enough for your stomach to let you know when it’s full. And when you get that message, you simply stop eating.
Using mindfulness with hypnotherapy really can help you to change your attitude to eating, and can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
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Liz Sharpe BSc (Hons), Dip Hyp, Adv MIBWRT, Dip CounsNovember 24th, 2016