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What is mindful eating?   It’s not a diet.  In fact, you can eat what you desire.  The idea is to eat it with more attention paid to the food, rather than eating unconsciously as most of us do most of the time.

Mindful eating involves approaching your eating habits with a greater awareness of your feelings of hunger, potential emotional triggers for eating, and the enjoyment and experience of the food.  Getting in touch with these feelings can have a powerful effect on your eating habits and can help you lose weight by eliminating emotional eating and learning your satiety signals.  It can also help you make healthier food choices by getting you in touch with what foods your body really needs and desires.

Mindful eating has been shown to have a positive impact on weight loss and binge eating disorders.  A study conducted  by the NIH found that participants lost between 8 and 20 lbs over 12 weeks by practicing mindful eating.

It does take some discipline to slow down and spend time with our food, when most of us lead such busy lives and often eat literally on the go.  However, committing to learning mindful eating is worthwhile if you desire to make long lasting lifetime changes in your relationship with food. Below are 10 tips to help you get started with eating more mindfully.

1) Visualize

Before you take the first bite, visualize yourself eating slowly and picture yourself eating only until full.  Close your eyes, take a few deep breathes smell your food to identify the different aromas.

2) Experience the First Bite

Take the first bite of your food into your mouth and then put your utensils down.  Focus in on the texture and flavor of your food as you taste it – even move it around inside your mouth.  Enjoy the bite before you swallow it.  Imagine the food heading down your throat and into your stomach.  Repeat with each bite.

3) Chew Slowly

Digestion begins in the mouth with the action of saliva.  When we chew our food too quickly, we not only eat more overall, we also make life more difficult for our stomach and intestines.  As you chew each bite, notice how the texture and flavor of the food changes.  Chew until you feel that the food is sufficiently broken down before you swallow.

4) Take Your Time

We’ve heard that it takes the brain about 20 minutes to get the signal that your body is full, so if you eat very quickly, you’re likely to consume more than you actually need to be full.  It’s healthier to take your time eating.  Take sips of water between bites to cleanse your palate so that each bite will be a new experience.

5) Use Your Five Senses

As you prepare your food and then eat it, try to focus in on each of the 5 senses.  What does your found sound like as it’s cooking?  Pay extra care to arranging your food beautifully on your plate – this can heighten the pleasure of eating food, which is why many gourmet restaurants are famous for their presentation.  As you’re eating, focus in on the smell as well as the taste and feel of the food in your mouth while chewing.  Tuning in to each of the 5 senses will greatly increase your enjoyment of your meal.

6) Tune Out and Tune In

While eating, turning off distractions such as the TV, radio, computer or even reading will help you to focus in on your meal.  Eat at a table where you feel comfortable and don’t allow any other distractions during your meal.

7) Listen to Your Body

When you experience hunger and cravings, listen to your body to determine what type of food it really craves.  If the first thing that comes to your mind is a desire for salty, crunchy food, ask yourself if it’s really chips you want or if the crunch is what you desire.  Could it be veggies with dip that your body really wants?  When you’re craving sugar could it be that your body really wants fruit?

8 ) Focus in on Sensations of Hunger and Fullness

Every few bites check in with yourself to see if you feel satisfied.  Once you do, stop eating and clean up your plate and the kitchen.  Remind yourself that you can eat again whenever you’re legitimately hungry.

9) Ditch the Guilt

It’s alright to eat foods that you crave, even if they’re not very good for you.  When you do choose to eat a sweet treat, allow yourself a small amount without guilt.  The idea is that in focusing on hunger, fullness and satiety, as well as the experience of eating the food, you’ll be satisfied by smaller amounts of the foods you crave.  That small amount won’t get in the way of your weight loss goals.

eat variety of foods10) Give Yourself Options

To eat healthfully your body needs a good mix of lean proteins, fibrous veggies and fruits, slow burning carbohydrates and healthy fats.  Make a list of healthy foods you enjoy that fit into each of these categories and keep it handy.  Stock your fridge with them and when hunger comes on, ask yourself what you most want to eat at that moment….and then eat it!

If you’re in need of a nutrition plan that gives you lots of healthy options in all of the food groups, give Athlean-XX for Women a try.  While we do include a 90-day meal plan in our Nutrition and Fitness program, we offer you the alternative of choosing healthy foods from our lists of fibrous carbs, starchy carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats.  You can highlight your favorite foods on each list and hang them on your fridge, so that you can choose exactly what your body wants each time you’re hungry.  Our healthy no-calorie-counting nutrition plan will allow you flexibility and freedom as well as help give you the energy you need for our tough 30 minute circuit training workouts.  Our goal at Athlean-XX for Women is to help you learn healthy lifelong eating and exercise habits.  We don’t want to be your ‘next’ nutrition and exercise plan – we want to be your last! Join us on Team Athlean today!

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