Lisa Beasley of 'My Body Positive' helps women to stop dieting because she believes that dieting is not the answer. Lisa suggests you should take an alternative approach to the one of dieting: Mindful Eating.
Mindful Eating helps you let go of diet thinking and focus on your wellbeing instead. With Mindful Eating, you become the expert in you, this means you become aware of what is driving your eating behaviours and then you can learn to change them.
Here are five tips to help you incorporate Mindful Eating into your life.
Eat when you are hungry
This sounds obvious of course, but you’d be surprised by how many eat by the clock, for example at breakfast, lunch and supper time, rather than actually noticing when your stomach is rumbling. Similarly, we eat for many other reasons, sometimes due to environmental triggers like the ‘coffee’ room at work, physical reasons, like pain or thirst, and many of us eat to deal with our emotions such as stress or loneliness.
Eat what you want
This means you can allow yourself to have what you want rather than what you think you ‘should' have. Years of diet thinking has driven many people to fear certain foods, particularly the ones bad to have in the house. Mindful eating helps you make peace with the idea that all food is allowed and this means balancing eating for nutrition and enjoyment. So, you are allowed to have that piece of cake you are craving and actually, it's better for you if you enjoy it rather than feel bad about it.
Stop when you’ve had enough
This involves learning to recognise when you have had enough to eat. This idea of always having to clear your plate and not let any good go to waste has been around for years, yet if you think about it differently, finishing your plateful if you have already had enough is a waste. It’s a wasted opportunity to look after yourself. If you eat more than your body needs it doesn’t feel good. Remember that 'Christmas Day feeling' of being uncomfortably full and actually ill.
Focus on what you are eating and enjoy it
Part of learning to eat more mindfully is, of course, related to how we eat. We are used to rushing about, eating on the run and don’t stop and take time with meals.
When multi-tasking, you aren’t really able to pay attention to food. It’s important to slow down, take a couple of calming breaths before eating. Focusing on what the food looks and smells like puts you in a better position to start eating and when eating, it should be done slowly – taste the flavours and enjoy the texture. This can also lead to eating less because you will be more satisfied as a result.
Exercise for fun rather than as a punishment
Many people who are stuck in an ‘all or nothing’ pattern with their eating have a similar relationship with exercise. We all know the benefits but might see exercise as a daunting thing to do or something that only the very fit can achieve. Learning to approach things with mindfulness can help in other areas of our lives. Focus on the wellbeing aspects of exercise – such that it gives you more energy, and helps you feel happier – this is much more of a motivator than “I should exercise for my health”.
Let go of the word ‘exercise’, as it can conjure up negative thoughts, and call it 'activity', this might make it more appealing, particularly if you realise it isn't a competition. These can be small and achievable goals but most importantly it should be something that is fun and makes you feel good.
Focus on your wellbeing instead of your weight, and prioritise looking at why you do the things you do. This will put you in a stronger position to deal with life's challenges.
Lisa runs Mindful Eating Group Workshops, both online and face to face, and One to One coaching following the principles of the 'Am I Hungry?’ Programme as created by Dr M May.Last modified: November 17, 2020