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Pay Attention to Lose Weight
by April Serok
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Do you want to know a secret to losing weight easily without feeling deprived and to keeping the weight off for good? Pay attention. Were you waiting for the secret? That was the secret: pay attention.
Numerous research studies, including those published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Appetite, and Physiology and Behavior, indicate that eating while distracted by televisions, computers, and smart phones leads to increased food intake and weight gain. Eating while distracted can also lead to poor food choices since the eater is less aware of what he or she is putting in his or her mouth.
The solution to mindless, distracted eating is to cultivate a more mindful approach to meals that increases appreciation and awareness of food and helps to activate your body's natural responses of satiety and fullness. Try these tips to get started.
Sit at the table for meals and snacks. Eating in an area designated for meals rather than in front of the television, behind the wheel of your car, or standing over the sink sends a signal to your brain that it's time to focus on food. Cultivating focus is at the core of mindful eating.
Turn off the television and banish phones and other electronics to another room while eating. It's difficult to focus on anything when surrounded by the bleeping, buzzing, blaring, and blinking of electronic devices. Take a picture of your meal to post on Facebook if you must, but then send your phone to the living room until after dessert.
Set the mood for eating. Presentation matters. Show your subconscious that the meal you're about to eat is important by making it a special occasion. Use a table cloth or special placemat, break out the good dishes, and light some candles.
Show gratitude. If you're spiritual or religious, giving thanks before eating helps you to acknowledge the importance of the food you're about to consume. Even if you're not particularly religious, take time to acknowledge all the work that went into growing and preparing your food. Visualize the process from the time a seed was planted in the ground through the harvesting, shipping, and preparation and cooking. Try growing your own food for an especially intimate relationship with your food's journey to your plate.
Eat slowly. It's widely accepted that it takes up to 20 minutes for hormone messengers to relay to the brain that the stomach is full, and many other studies have found that when people eat more slowly, they consume fewer calories. Take your time and enjoy your food instead of eating so quickly that you don't notice how much you're consuming. Some tried-and-true tricks for eating more slowly include holding your fork or spoon with your non-dominant hand, putting your fork or spoon down between each bite, or even trying your hand at eating with chopsticks.
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Savor your food. Pay special attention to the different flavors and textures of your food. Notice the smoothness and creaminess of that yogurt. Relish the acidity of a tomato fresh from the garden. See how many different spices and ingredients you can taste.
Create a post-meal ritual to signal eating is over. Blow out the candles, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, or take a short walk. These rituals will signal your body that the time for eating is over until your next meal.
Losing weight and eating more healthfully doesn't have to be a complicated, expensive process. You don't need special meal plans, meal replacement shakes, or complex calorie counters. Instead, try the simple act of being more mindful when you're eating. With patience and practice, you'll get back in tune with your body's natural cues for knowing when you're full, and you'll stop overeating. Before long, you'll notice excess weight slipping away, but because you're actually taking notice of all the delicious food you eat, you won't feel a bit deprived.
Reviewed April 2017
Take the Next Step:
- Decide which of your bad eating habits you're going to change today and then do it!
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