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Posted January 15, 2018 by Kathy G. Wise, RDN, LD, CWP, CWC
We eat for many reasons beyond hunger, which is why learning to eat mindfully helps you maintain or even lose weight if desired. As we celebrate Healthy Weight week this week, here are ten tips that provide some food for thought.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight.
2. Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with adequate protein, fat and the right amount of carbohydrates. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
3. Make Peace with Food. Call a truce and stop the food fight! Give yourself permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you should not have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity it usually results in “Last Supper” overeating, and overwhelming guilt. Practice the 80/20 rule. Eight percent of your food should fuel your body, 20 percent to fuel your soul.
4. Challenge the Food Police. Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments.
5. Respect Your Fullness. Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you are comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence— the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food will not fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, but ultimately you will have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body. Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference. Get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk and hitting the snooze alarm.
10. Honor Your Health. Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you do not have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It is important to remember, it is what you eat consistently over time that matters; progress not perfection is what counts.
Kathy G. Wise, RDN, LD, CWP, CWC
System Director, Human Resources Employee Wellness