Are you mindful when you eat?

When clients come to see me for weight loss, I ask them ‘How fast do you eat?’.  Most of them tell me that they eat quickly, often with the TV on.  I explain the importance of eating slowly and without distractions so that you can hear the messages that your body sends you when it has had sufficient to eat.

Last week I had an extraordinary experience.  I persuaded a friend to experience mindful eating with me.  I cut up some salad vegetables and feta cheese in bite sized portions and put them into two containers.  My friend agreed to put on a blindfold and then I gave him his food.  I did the same.  We agreed not to talk while we were eating.

It was hard not to talk but it became very meditative.  When we had finished we were both very calm and peaceful.  We had both really tasted and enjoyed the food.  The texture and sound of the food also became more apparent.  I stopped eating before the container was empty because I knew I had eaten enough.

I recommend eating with your eyes closed or blindfolded as an experience.  If you want to eat slowly and mindfully:

  • Eat at a table
  • No distractions – turn off the TV, put away the mobile phone or Tablet.
  • Put down your knife and fork between every mouthful
  • Keep the food in your mouth and chew slowly
  • Notice the ‘satisfied’ feeling and stop eating

This is a good start to losing unwanted weight.

What is good nutrition?

I work with clients on issues from nail biting to depression and I run training sessions on a range of wellbeing and NLP subjects.  I’ve found that the clients who benefit the most and the delegates who learn the most are the ones who engage with the therapy and the subject.  They are the people who ask lots of questions, experiment with the techniques that I teach them and give me lots of feedback.
So I love it when clients and learners come back to me with research and recommendations from things that they have read or seen.  Thanks to the Internet we can all have access to the latest research, the only limit is the amount of time we have to look.  
One of my weight loss clients is sending me some great information on nutrition and I thought I would share them with you.
“Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” Speaker: Robert H. Lustig MD UCSF  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
“Protein Power”. Speaker: Michael Eades, MD
“10 Diet Myths”: The GKR Karate UK Conference Presentation. Speaker: Zoe Harcombe
Lots to think about there if you are struggling with your diet.

New Research on Weight Loss

Sometimes when you hear about a new piece of research that has been published you wonder how they ever got the funding to look into something so whacky or something that just seems like common sense.  But there have been a few interesting papers published recently on weight loss.
 
Dr David Hall of the US National Institutes for Health and his colleagues have published research in The Lancet about realistic rates of weight loss (http://bit.ly/o0i6AZ ).  In their report they say that general advice has been that if you cut 500 calories from your daily diet or burn them off through exercise you can expect to lose 1lb (0.5kg) of weight every week.  However, they say, that it takes longer to lose weight and a year of dieting will result in only half the amount of weight that experts currently predict.  Because of that, many people give up because they have unrealistic expectations.
An unusual study by Ohio State University has shown that a socially active lifestyle can dramatically speed up weight loss through the burning of fat in mice (http://bbc.in/nJH2Vv) .  The team found that relatively small changes in the physical and social living environment of the mice can alter vast amounts of white fat to brown fat which is easier to burn off.  Professor During said that “it is not the size of your social network, but its depth and complexity, and your level of engagement with that network, that counts.”
Radio 4’s ‘All in the Mind’ programme on 5 October, featured research by Dr David Neill of the University of South Carolina into the effect of bad eating habits.  Their research studied habitual popcorn eaters at a cinema.  They found that participants ate out of habit, regardless of the freshness of the popcorn.  The habit can be broken by asking the participant to eat with their non-dominant hand, that is, if they normally eat with their right hand, change to their left hand.  That change, known as a ‘pattern interrupt’ in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), gives the participant a chance to make the conscious decision about whether they want to carry on eating.
So what are the implications if you want to lose weight?  Firstly, set yourself realistic weight loss targets and stick at it – healthy eating is for life not just for New Year’s resolutions.  Having an active social life with lots of face to face interactions is good for your emotional health and will help you to lose weight.  And finally, you can break harmful eating habits by making small changes like eating with your non-dominant hand or moving snacks to a new drawer or cupboard in the kitchen.