Mindfulness Exercises for Losing Weight
Do you know that one-third of American adults are obese? Not just that, about 17 percent of children ages 2 to 19 is obese. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that obese children are five times at risk of becoming obese when they become adults as compared to children of normal weight (1).
Our body image is not the only reason for losing weight. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, improving mental health, decreasing the risk of joint problems, and developing an energy boost are just a few reasons why losing weight is a very crucial concern. In fact, there are already different kinds of diets and exercises which are introduced to us, and the latest in the wellness community is mindful eating.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to our feelings, thoughts, surrounding environment, and bodily sensations using a nurturing lens. It also means maintaining an awareness of our feelings and thoughts without judging them. When we practice mindfulness, we accept and focus the present, rather than reminiscing the past or foreseeing the future (2).
Practicing mindfulness when it comes to weight loss is not only used to improve your food relationship, but also to reduce your stress level, sleep better, and boost empathy. And yes, mindful eating is said to be an effective practice to shape your body as well as to change the way you think about eating.
A study published in Health Harvard explained its side how mindful eating could foster in losing weight. Mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness suggesting that a slower and more thoughtful way of eating can make us focus on various aspects at the moment including the smell, flavor, texture, and color of the food (3). In that way, we can be more cautious about what we eat that we can prevent choosing and eating unhealthy foods.
How can mindfulness help us lose weight?
Diet and exercise may come in your mind if you want to lose weight. But, a study suggests that mindful eating can actually help you choose healthy eating and exercise habits, manage your cravings, and eventually boost your self-image (4). Focus on your emotions and sensations, and know how to identify hunger.
Here are the ways on how mindfulness can help us lose weight:
Mindfulness can make us become more aware of how we eat
Mindfulness is a form of mediation which can help us become aware of our actions and thoughts. This will allow us to control our eating behavior. We may not know this, but most of us used to eat without giving much attention to our food. It is actually important to enjoy our food and as well as to appreciate our satiation and hunger levels.
If we practice mindfulness, we eat our food slowly and thoroughly. In this way, we can be able to focus on our feelings during mealtimes. Through time, we can be able to determine our level of satiation, which can then allow us to stop eating when we are already full, instead of when our plate is empty. Mindful eating can help us develop a more conscious behavior, which will allow us to stop binge eating and overeating (5).
According to the author of “Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind,” Joy Rains, mediation can help us become aware of what and how we eat. She advised that we should pay attention to the smell, taste, and temperature of the food as well as the size of every bite and our pace of eating.
If we eat slowly, our brain is given time to signal us that we are full. And if we practice mindful eating, we can be able to determine when to stop eating. In that way, we prevent ourselves from overeating and maintain eating the right amount of food, essential for us to lose weight.
Mindfulness can help us reduce stress and anxiety, and both contribute to weight gain
A study has shown that our dietary behaviors are affected by stress, which will eventually lead us to weight changes (6). The good thing is that mindfulness can help us reduce our stress because we are able to control it. It can also help improve the connectivity of our mind and body. Aside from that, mediation can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health, which will eventually result in weight loss.
People who are stress tend to adapt to a coping mechanism, such as emotional eating. Instead of facing our problems, we shift our focus on eating in order to avoid dealing with it. But, many of us realize in the end that our problems remain as it is after we stop eating. Of course, weight gain is a natural result of overeating.
But, if we learn how to meditate, we can be able to control our stress levels. And we don’t need to opt-in comfort eating to reduce our stress. Remember that our body naturally releases a stress hormone that can help us deal with the situation. However, it results in an increase of our appetite, which then makes our body store more fats. But if we meditate, our body releases serotonin and oxytocin which thwarts the effects.
Mindfulness can help us make healthier decisions
Almost all of us have been stress-eating. We know how it feels like to eat our favorite desserts after a long day of hard work, but, there is a huge difference between eating because you are hungry and eating because you are stressed. Yes, we tend to eat when we’re sad, bored, depressed, or stressed. If we practice mindfulness, our feelings will be redirected to something else, something better. This can help us reduce emotional eating and binge eating.
If we are aware of what we are eating, we can make better food decisions. As we already learned, taking things slowly when choosing our food and eating our meals, we can get various health benefits. According to Science Daily, mindfulness can motivate us to make healthier decisions, instead of feeling shameful if we are confronted with health advice (7).
Mindfulness can support our weight loss goal
If we practice mindful eating, we will be able to deeply realize why we overeat, why we don’t have a healthy diet, why we don’t engage in exercises or any other questions which can actually help us in losing weight. If we realize these facets, we can be able to determine the solution to our problem, which will then lead us to a healthier lifestyle.
Meditating daily can help us improve our relationship with our body, movement, food, and more. We will be motivated to lose weight if we are able to picture out our weight loss goals. Certainly, mediation has a huge impact on entire well-being, especially in our goal of losing weight.
Tips in mindful eating
Mindfulness itself is not the only way to lose weight, but, it is an approach that can help us make healthier decisions, which can then lead us to weight loss.
Here are the tips in mindful eating:
Pause and ask yourself
Before you eat your meal, ask yourself why you are eating in the first place. Give time to know what your body truly feels.
Are you hungry, or maybe you are just thirsty? Are you stressed, or maybe you are just bored?
Our impulse makes us eat quickly. But, if we want to lose weight and practice mindful eating, we should always remember to pause first and determine our purpose why we eat.
Chew slowly and thoroughly
Have you ever experience eating your food completely without even chewing it? If you are guilty, you will probably reason out that you are just extremely hungry. But, you should take note that this can affect proper digestion, plus, it can make you miss the flavor and texture of the food.
When we chew our food thoroughly, we can be able to experience how it tastes, which can make us savor it more. This will allow our taste buds to register the flavor of the food- sweet, sour, or salty.
Chewing is very crucial not just to help us swallow and digest our food, but also to help us be relieved from stress and regulate our cognitive function, such as our attention (8).
Drink water before meals
According to WebMD, we should drink around 16 oz. of water 30 minutes before we eat (9). Drinking plenty of water will not only help you avoid overeating, but it can also help you stay hydrated.
Besides, drinking water before meals is said to slow down your mind, which can help you focus and concentrate on your eating. Of course, drinking water can act as an appetite suppressant, which can help you reduce your food intake.
Eat colorful, fresh, and unprocessed foods
If possible, choose healthy colorful foods and serve them in the proper portions. We already learned that we should slow down when eating our meals. This will make us appreciate the flavors of our food. This will help us develop a better appreciation for healthy foods.
Get rid of distractions
Since mindful eating means focusing on your food, you should eat without distractions. Switch off the TV, close your computer, and step away from your smartphone.
A study suggests that the sound of eating can actually aid in reducing how much we eat, so it’s better to get rid of distractions, even listening to music (10). The crunch effect can make you eat less if you are aware of the noise your food makes.
It’s hard to concentrate if your thoughts are drawn away, such as if someone is talking to you or just simply standing in front of you. Just like mindful eating, it will be difficult for us to savor our food and determine our satiety level if we are out of attention.
Wait for signal
Do you know that it takes around 20 minutes for our brain to receive satiety levels? That is the reason why we should wait for a while for our brain to give us a signal that we are full before we decide for round two.
Make a journal of your cravings
Just like any other diet tips, it’s always best to make a journal of what you eat, your cravings, as well as your feelings. If you are able to know when these cravings occur, you can make a wiser decision whether or not to eat.
Moreover, if you can determine your eating habits, then you will know the things needed in order for you to practice mindful eating. For instance, if you are used to eating your meals in front of the computer, you can shift such a habit to a peaceful silence while eating.
The key to a healthier lifestyle is to follow an approach that could make you eat healthy, nourishing foods. Mindfulness is a form of mediation that could help us become aware of our feelings and thoughts. And mindful eating can make us improve our food relationship, which can aid us in losing weight.
This way, we can be able to lose weight as we control the food we eat effectively. It will also help us appreciate more of the food we eat, including its smell, flavor, texture, and color. Mindful eating is just easy to follow. So if you are trying to lose weight, practice meditation, and never forget to enjoy your food.