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Managing Your Weight: Practice Mindful Eating

There has been a great deal of talk about this concept of “mindfulness.” What does mindfulness mean? Quite simply, mindfulness refers to a state of mind where you are “fully present in the moment.” In order to make any behavior change, mindfulness is crucial. Why? How can you possibly change your behavior if you’re not presently aware of it?

What complicates behavior change is that much of our behavior occurs without our conscious awareness. You can walk without thinking about each step you take. You can talk without thinking of how to form words with your mouth. Even a compex set of behaviors can become unconscious. Have you ever had the experience of driving to a familiar location and when you arrived you noticed that you don’t remember even half of the journey? This is because your brain tries to do as much activity without conscious awareness as possible. Think of how much processing a computer is doing that you’re not even aware of. You’re just sitting there surfing the web or typing a document and all the while your computer is doing 101 tasks behind the scenes. Your brain works very much the same way.

While this automatic processing that our brain does is amazing and helps simplify our lives, it also becomes a problem if one of those automatic behaviors is one you would like to change. In the case of eating, you would have to become aware of your eating in order to change it. We’ve all had the experience of eating 5 to 10 cookies and only remembering one or two of them going into our mouth. 

To become a “mindful eater” you have to practice “mindful eating.” Here’s how: During your next meal, put the plate of food in front of you and look at it for a minute or so. Think about what is about to happen. Begin to eat. Every time you put a fork full of food into your mouth, let it sit there for a moment. Enjoy the flavors and textures of each bit. Enjoy it! Every time you put the fork down, think about your level of fullness and satisfaction. Are you still hungry? Do you want more?

When you are mindful you are in the moment and therefore you can contemplate each bite and each decision you make about whether you want to eat more. In this way, you can better control your eating habits, which can result in weight loss. While mindful eating is not the entire puzzle, it is certainly a big piece of it.