But We Have to Eat!

Over the years, I’ve had so many clients comment that it would be so much easier to manage their overeating, emotional eating or binge eating if they didn’t have to eat every day. Alcoholics can abstain from alcohol and drug addicts can abstain from drugs. But we have to eat, so abstaining is not a solution.

If you are visually cued to eat (you only have to see a luscious piece of chocolate cream pie to really want it), then you can be “attacked” by food many times a day. You may also be sensitive to just hearing the description of the pie.

Your biggest challenge is most likely being around the actual food. What do you do when many of your favorite foods are in front of you and you want to pile your plate high… several times?

If that is what you think and worry about, you are not alone. Most people who struggle with food have learned that you can’t eat certain foods or you must limit or restrict. This kind of thinking or diet mentality actually makes cravings worse and weight gain increase.

Mindful Eating teaches you to have a different relationship with food… a positive and enjoyable one because you can eat foods that are both pleasing and nourishing to you. If you like lasagna, it’s not off-limits, even if you want to lose weight.

I bet you are going to see more and more of the medical community embrace Mindful Eating since obesity is such an alarming medical challenge and no diets have ever proven to be successful long-term.

Mindful Eating is NOT a diet. It is a new way to think about eating and food. It is a behavior change and lifestyle change and anyone who has truly embraced it has been shocked by the result. Curious?man rejecting junk food

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Grocery List and Weight

I’m the first to tell you to eat the foods you like, whether or not you’d like to lose weight. The important difference with Mindful Eating is to choose foods both pleasing and nourishing. So when I recently read in Medscape that shoppers who use a grocery list made higher quality food choices and had lower body weights, I was interested.

The research included 1,300 mostly overweight or obese people. The research could not determine if some paid more attention to their food and weight, so they also planned more or if the people that planned more were able to resist temptation and stick to their list.

I’m not sure it really matters because I know that if you want to eat healthier, lose weight or cut down on sugar, the food you have in your immediate eating environment determines how successful you will be until you are able to slowly, over time, change your undesired eating behavior.

So if you make a grocery list of all the foods that you like and want to keep abundantly around you, your chances of achieving your goal are much higher than if you did not plan and came home to then decide what to eat.

You can even make the process easier for you by making a master grocery list to check off your most used (and liked) items and an area to write things in for each shopping trip.

Keep in mind that grocery stores are carefully set-up to tempt you to make impulse buys. They pay consultants big money to show them the most convincing displays and areas to reach you. And don’t forget that the manufacturer’s spend tons of money to make the packaging have compelling eye appeal… and buy appeal.

You can see that having a grocery list just to overcome these food evils alone will be helpful. You will increase your success even more if you plan a menu and shop from that. It doesn’t have to be exact or written in stone. Leave flexibility for those crazy nights when things change… because they will.Couple shopping at supermarket

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Reacting To Stress With Food

Some people seem to respond to much of life in a laid back way. Others become anxious and stressed more easily. If you have developed good coping skills, then you’re most likely the laid back, relaxed type. But when you react to stress with food, you may become frustrated even more with the unpleasant side effect of consuming that extra food.

If you happen to be the one who easily stresses and worries, here are a few tips to use instead of always reaching for food:

  1. Turn to good friends or close family members who are willing to let you discuss upsetting or frustrating situations without judgement.
  2. Make a list of the issues that are in your control and the ones that are not. Don’t spend time on the ones out of your control like other people’s behavior. Spend your energy focusing on problem solving the ones you have some control over like your relationship with your spouse.
  3. Anytime you’re anxious or worried about a particular upcoming event, focus your energy on preparing for it as much as possible. Knowing that you’ve done all that you can do to get ready is calming and reassuring.
  4. Make sleep a priority. Everything seems catastrophic when we are sleep-deprived.
  5. Add some exercise that you enjoy. Exercise is a great stress reliever, but if you don’t enjoy the process, it will be tough to begin. Whether you choose walking your dog, gardening, bike riding or swimming, pick something(s) that will keep you engaged.
  6. Decide on another outlet that you can channel your frustrations and worries. Journaling, music, meditation, art (even coloring), working out and socializing with friends are just a few.

Because eating when stressed does make you feel better temporarily, it provides a positive feedback. But unfortunately, it can also cause weight gain and feelings of shame and guilt. As with every new behavior, begin slowly and add a little each day. And know that some days you will eat in response to stress and that is okay. You are human, so strive for progress, not perfection. Family gardening

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Small Changes

When you want to change the look of your living room, do you buy all new furniture, curtains, carpet, pillows and lamps? Or do you start with small changes at first, maybe the curtains and pillows?

How you live your life is how you will approach most goals, but if eating healthier and losing weight is one of them, slow changes will make you more successful.

Your pattern of eating, whether it’s mostly healthy food but too much, or heavy on the processed, packaged foods, did not happen overnight. If you’re in your 40′s, it took that many years for your eating habits to become established. Trying to get rid of them immediately with willpower is a recipe for disaster.

If you really want to be successful in changing your eating, make small changes… consistently. Build on your successes. Start with a small change, such as eating an extra vegetable daily. When that is a normal part of your daily routine (like brushing your teeth), add another. Again, make it very achievable.

Taking away foods is deprivation and something that will not last long-term. But as you add nutrient-packed foods, you will be less inclined to eat the less than nutritious fare. When your “new” way of eating becomes habitual, then eating desserts and snack foods will be the less common (but totally acceptable) way to eat.

Think about this… you didn’t get to where you are in a couple of weeks, so why do you think you can undo years of behavior so quickly. Make daily, consistent changes until they are your new habit. Don’t give up after 2 weeks. This is a lifelong change and that is why Mindful Eating is so important. Enjoyable eating that meets nutritional needs.Man eating veggies

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