Eating is a pleasurable and satisfying pastime - at least it should be! However, so often it can be a source of guilt, especially for those that are trying to watch their weight or stick to a set of strict 'food rules'.
Most people have favourite foods, and often we are deeply emotionally attached to these foods. Unfortunately when we try to lose weight or follow a certain set of 'food rules', often it is our favourite foods that we try and cut out. This is what makes ‘dieting’ so hard. When we are deprived of our favourite foods, we tend to crave them even more than usual. When we reach breaking point and give in to the craving, we typically do so with such gusto that we overeat and undo all of our hard work. And even worse, when we do eat these foods, we eat them so fast that we don’t enjoy them and instead of feeling satisfied afterwards, we are overcome with guilt.
So, the big question is: How do we eat our favourite foods and lose weight at the same time?
The answer is allowing these foods in moderation, which requires a skill called mindful eating. Mindful eating is all about savouring and enjoying your favourite foods. Taste more, eat less.
- Get yourself one of your favourite foods. The more decadent the better.
- Look at the food. What is the texture like? Look at the edges. Turn the food around and view it from all angles.
- Smell the food. Really suck up the smell. How would you describe the aroma?
- Bite off a small piece. Don’t chew it straight away- notice how it feels in your mouth. Leave it on your tongue for a bit. Ok, so now you can chew it. Is it crunchy and rough or soft and smooth? Now notice the flavours. How many flavours can you taste? Which are strongest?
- Listen. What is the sound of you chewing your favourite food? This sound should be associated with enjoyment.
- Swallow the food. As you swallow notice the movement of the muscles in the throat. Most importantly- notice that as you swallow the taste dramatically decreases. This is why we must savour food before swallowing.
- Finish the food. SLOWLY. Break between mouthfuls. Truly enjoy it.
- Most people find that if they can eat this way, it is much easier to stop at a small amount, as opposed to binging on the ‘forbidden’ food.
Have a think about your favourite ‘fattening’ or 'unhealthy' foods- you have probably tried (and failed) to cut these out before. Now you need to change your mindset. Instead of banning these foods entirely, allow yourself to have a small amount of them on a daily basis. For example, if chocolate is your downfall, try having a only few pieces of decadent chocolate everyday. Use mindful eating to savour the chocolate. With time you will notice that the cravings subside, the guilt disappears and the binging ceases.
Now go forth and truly enjoy your favourite foods- in moderation, of course.