How much happier and freer would you be if you stopped worrying about what to and what not to eat? When we try to improve our diets, we usually use willpower. But if we're relying on willpower alone, we're almost always destined to fail. If you approach a change with the attitude that you'll make yourself do it, you'll end up fighting yourself. When you force yourself eat a certain way, you fight your natural hunger.
How will you ever win if you are your own enemy?
The answer is to stop fighting yourself, and instead listen to and trust your body again. The answer is mindful eating, deliberately paying attention to what you're eating moment by moment, and being aware of what's happening inside your body without judgement or criticism.
As someone who has "dieted" for the past 10 years, this is the only way of eating that I've never grown bored with, frustrated by or fallen off the proverbial wagon. When I practice mindful eating, I naturally eat what’s good for me because I want to.
Need convincing? Here are five reasons to try mindful eating:
1. Studies suggest that mindful eating can result in significant changes in weight, eating behavior and psychological distress.
2. One of the greatest benefits of mindful eating is that you don’t ever have to "diet." When you eat mindfully, you learn to trust your body. Whatever it tells you to eat, eat it. You might be thinking, “then I’ll just have chocolate ice cream for the rest of my life,“ but once you start to eat mindfully, you'll notice what your body is really craving.
3. You can stop being confused. If you've tried to improve your diet before, you may have noticed it's not as straightforward as you thought it would be. You can find persuasive, contradictory advice on pretty much anything. Be vegan, eat raw, don’t eat raw, avocados are great for you, avocados are bad for you. When you listen to your body you become your own expert.
4. You'll start to actually enjoy food again. Paying attention to what you eat (feeling the texture, smelling it, consciously chewing it) lets you explore a new world.
5. When you eat mindfully, you are present. You live in the moment, which leads to less stress and overall well-being. Plus, practicing mindful eating will make it easier for you to live in the moment in other areas of your life as well.
How to do it? In order to practice mindful eating, you only have to follow four steps:
1. When you begin eating, devote your full attention to your food: it’s aroma, temperature, texture, the combination of flavors on the tongue.
2. Chew. Really pay attention to the physical process of eating your food. When you focus on the flavors, you’ll do that automatically and you’ll notice how one familiar food suddenly has many complex flavors that you never noticed before.
3. Take your time. Don’t rush through a meal. Honor every bite of food you take, and give it as much time as it needs.
4. Don’t distract yourself. Focus on the food.
The most important aspect of mindful eating is to not force yourself to do it. Don’t turn it into a chore. Instead focus on the joy it gives you. If you're a chronic dieter, it’s one of the most liberating things you can do.