Practicing Mindful Eating for a Healthier Lifestyle
The typical American diet is harmful to the health and lives of many Americans. Diet-related deaths currently outrank deaths caused by smoking, and about half of US deaths from heart disease are linked to poor diet. As such, food-based interventions have become popular to encourage people to eat better and manage their weight.
People who are overweight or obese turn to medical weight loss to help manage their weight and prevent the development of related health conditions such as heart disease. Today, medical weight loss includes FDA-approved medications for chronic weight management, such as weekly semaglutide injections or orlistat taken orally three times a day.
Medical weight loss also includes bariatric surgery for patients with a body mass index of 30 to 35. Study results showed nearly 60% of patients who underwent bariatric surgery lost at least half their excess body weight and saw improvements or resolution of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension.
Still, medical weight loss is not for everybody and is only FDA-approved for people who meet BMI and medical requirements. Fortunately, you can still strive for healthy weight management by practicing mindful eating. This involves staying present while dining and paying attention to when, how, and what meals to consume.
When done correctly, mindful eating can help you better appreciate your food and cultivate a positive attitude regarding your nutrition and overall health. If you’re also looking for a way to practice mindful eating for a healthier lifestyle, here are three ways you can start:
Prioritize quality over quantity
There is a common misconception that cutting out total food groups is the key to eating well. It’s healthier to strike a balance between mindful eating habits and effective weight loss. Deprivation will only create tension in your relationship with food, which will put you at risk of binging.
Meanwhile, healthy habits like portion control and nutrition allow you to enjoy a variety of foods without losing sight of your individual health goals. As such, when trying to attain an ideal weight via better eating, take a moment to focus on how you’re eating rather than just what you’re eating or cutting out.
Think of the nutrition this food brings and how it satisfies you. This is a prime mindful eating tenet that allows you to focus your attention on more valuable details that will serve your personal situation and dining needs rather than just treating your diet like a generic task.
Keep your emotions in check
No matter how logical you deem yourself, everyone experiences emotional highs and lows. Unfortunately, such overwhelming emotions can affect your eating behavior. A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found connections between stress levels and food intake.
So, how can mindfulness help? When you acknowledge your emotions, you can begin breaking them down and developing coping mechanisms outside of eating. This allows you to eat without negative feelings attached to your food. If you’re struggling with your emotions and you feel the urge to turn to food, try techniques like square breathing or sitting meditation to calm yourself first.
This will help you quiet your mind enough so that you can decide whether you’re actually hungry or just eating out of stress.
Avoid distractions during meals
Focusing on your meal is essential but difficult to do in today’s fast-paced, digital-first society. But evidence suggests that young adults who were distracted while eating consumed significantly less food.
This is because having distractions around you can lead to mindless eating. Over time, this can cause issues like dissatisfaction, malnutrition, and rapid weight fluctuations. For people trying to lose weight, this erratic dining behavior can even cause more issues with sustainable weight loss as the body’s metabolic rate is in flux.
To honor the food as it deserves and to give you the nourishing dining experience you need, make meal times sacred. Keep gadgets away from the table and instead learn to savor each dish and each bite.
Mindful eating considers everything, which is why it helps you better listen to your body’s signals. When these are considered, you’re that much closer to achieving better overall health that is suited for your respective goals.
If you want to learn more about mental health and holistic wellness, or want to work with someone to achieve your goals, you can find out more here.