Mindful Eating On A Medical Weight Loss Plan

June 12, 2017

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Mindful eatingIt’s official. Mindfulness has officially gone mainstream. More people than ever are using it to reduce stress levels and improve their health and well-being. Mindfulness is mainly considered to be an “alternative” practice, so does it have any place within a medical weight loss program? Absolutely, yes!

 

What is mindfulness? It’s the practice of having open-minded awareness of each moment of life’s experiences. It’s a way to increase appreciation and gratitude by paying attention to each thought, feeling, sensation, and your environment without a spec of judgment (that last part is important). Most people achieve mindfulness through the practice of meditation (more than 18 million in the US alone), but it also plays a very helpful role in improving eating habits, which is referred to as mindful eating.

When you eat mindfully, it means you focus on the entire experience of your meal, from the first whiff of its aroma, to the taste on your tongue, and then to the feeling as you chew and swallow. It forces you to slow down and put a stop to the, well, mindless eating, that is so often a root cause of weight and digestive issues.

Mindful eating can be applied to anything you consume, solids and liquids alike. This means that if you are following a medical weight loss program, there is no reason why you can’t practice it with prescribed meal replacement. In fact, starting the habit of mindful eating with meal replacement while engaging in one-on-one behavioral counseling sessions is excellent practice for the time when you transition back to everyday foods. Both body and mind will be conditioned to slow down and become fully aware of what you consume and how you consume it, which will help you manage your weight in the long run.

Starting the practice of mindful eating may take a few tries, but you’ll find it’s worth the effort. Not only can it help you achieve your weight loss goals faster, but other benefits include increased energy, lower stress levels, and even improved mental acuity.

Here are some steps to kick off your mindful eating practice:

  1. Listen to your body’s hunger signals. If you’re not hungry, there’s no need to eat.
  2. When you decide to eat, observe the look and texture of your meal.
  3. Be thankful for what you are about to eat.
  4. Eat or drink with your non-dominant hand.
  5. Try to avoid sitting in front of the TV or computer while eating. Pay attention to your food and companions if you are eating with other people. Make sure you are eating or drinking in a comfortable environment.
  6. Close your eyes with the first bite. Chew or sip slowly (25 times for solids). Pay attention to the taste and texture each time.
  7. Put down your utensil or glass after each bite or sip. Focus on how your mind and body feel with each intermittent pause.
  8. After finishing the meal, be aware of your body’s sensations.

One of the lessons medical weight loss patients learn in behavioral counseling is that chewing slower actually makes you feel fuller faster. It gives your body the time it needs to recognize the calories that are being consumed. This is just one way mindful eating can help reinforce that type of behavior that is so productive for effective weight loss.

If you suspect you have an issue with mindless eating, why not give the practice of mindful eating a try? And complementing it with a medical weight loss approach can produce even greater results. After a short period of time you’ll be in a much better place in body, mind, and spirit, which will carry you for many years to come.

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