10 Steps to integrating mindful eating- find peace, calmness and sanity around food and in your body
Often people find themselves in a loop of dieting, then overeating, then recommitting to a diet only to never find peace with their bodies or with food.
But the very best way to find your body's sweet spot is to stop dieting and integrate mindful eating.
Your body doesn't want to be unnaturally skinny, nor does it want to be bigger than it needs to be. When you integrate mindful eating and learn to really slow down and listen to what your body needs, your weight naturally falls to its healthiest place.
This is about telling yourself that it is okay to legalize every food that you've been restricting. No more no carb diets. Goodbye gluten free. Goodbye rules that are someone else's. You are going to learn how to listen to what YOUR body needs. If you need to lose weight- when you eat for your body, you will lose weight.
Diet plans are not written by people who live in your body. You are the expert on your own body and you get to sit in your body and figure out what feels right and what feels wrong. A book won't tell you that, it will only tell you what someone else thinks. Rather than looking outward to what they experts think you should eat, look inward to learn what your body needs. When you are able to do that, your body will naturally come to its happy place and you will feel comfortable, alive and at peace with food and your body.
Check out these ten steps to learning mindful eating:
1. Say goodbye to dieting. Throw all the diet plans away. You are going to learn to listen to what you need.
2. All those foods that you've been restricting (bread, pasta, potatoes, dairy, chocolate etc.), unless you are truly allergic to these foods, welcome them back in.
3. Stop counting calories. You are going to start giving your body what it truly needs and trust that it knows how much.
4. When you are hungry, EAT!
5. Before you eat though, try to stop, slow down, close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, tune in with your heartbeat and ask yourself what your body needs.
6. Heed your needs. Whatever your body is telling you that you need, give it to your body. But eat it SLOWLY and really taste your food. Chew your food, allow yourself to experience it in your mouth and allow yourself feel your food being digested in your body.
7. Stop when you are halfway done with your meal. Are you satisfied? If so, you can stop eating and save the other half of your food for when you are hungry later. If you are not satisfied, allow yourself to eat half of what's left. When you are finished, check in with your body again. You don't want to get to a place where you are full or uncomfortably full, you want to get to a place where you are comfortable and satisfied, where you feel energized, able to get up and go for a walk, but not sluggish. The Okinawans in Japan who practice Hara hachi bu -the Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80% full- refer to it as a key to their longevity. This isn't about being and staying hungry or restricting, it's about satisfying your needs and feeling calm and at peace as much as you can. You want to be satisfied, not constantly needing something else.
8. Put whatever you have left over aside for later. Remind yourself that you are now letting yourself eat whatever you want so you don't have to hurry through your food or eat it all in one fell swoop before you go on your next diet.
9. After your meal, try to sit and notice how that food makes you feel. When you integrate mindful eating, you become acutely aware of your body and the way different foods feel in your body. This might mean that you naturally stop eating things with gluten if gluten is truly not working in your body. When you become connected with your body, it will be easy for you to take care of it by choosing foods that are life affirming and healthy for you.
10. "Act as though I am and I will be." Use visualizations to begin to integrate mindfulness. Picture yourself eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. See yourself eating whatever you want, a plate of pasta, a piece of cake, a salad. See yourself eating it slowly and mindfully, stopping when you are feeling satisfied. Try a guided visualization download. Use the coupon code TANGO for 50% off.
Leora Fulvio is the author of Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide to Healing