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Mindful Eating
An Essential Key to Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance

By Dr. Paul Kolaski
 

The practice of mindfulness teaches to observe shapes, colors textures, smells. It tells us to think about how the object we are focusing on was produced and who might have been involved in its production, the place of production, where the materials used to produce it came from all the way back to its origin in nature. Or if it’s an activity, to closely analyze where we are performing the activity, why we are performing the activity, how we are performing the activity, etc. 

MINDFULNESS

When we become truly mindful we become almost childlike. We can all relate to some childhood encounter that takes us emotionally right back to that moment in time when we first experienced it. Mindfulness can often leave us with a memorable encounter that can impart a special feeling or emotion which can resurface time and again with the proper trigger. It could be a song that stirred an emotion, a vista that made a lasting impression, a fun feeling that occurred while playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids, or just the relaxing moment that happened while lying in the grass and watching the clouds change shape.

Practicing mindfulness and accumulating enjoyable mindful experiences saturates the feel good areas of the brain. It provides us with a sense inner peace. It helps us appreciate good feelings that can eventually overtake and replace negative emotions. The more mindful experiences you accumulate the more rich emotions we have available to from which to draw. Maybe this is why Christian or Buddhist monks seem so at peace with themselves and the world?

Practicing mindfulness can help overcome living the hectic big city life. It tells us to STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES. While mindfulness may have come naturally when we are young and innocent with time to spare and little to do, it has to be learned and practiced as responsibility and routine fill life's every moment.

SO WHAT’S MINDFULNESS GOT TO DO WITH WEIGHT LOSS?

Eating as a daily routine for which we give little thought. In our rushed society we often eat on the run without thinking about what or how much we are consuming. Equally important we don’t know “WHY WE ARE EATING”, interesting that much of the time it’s not because of hunger.

With the help of the food industry, we have trained our taste buds that unhealthy foods are more enjoyable. We've trained our emotional center that eating will make us feel better, a mechanism that temporarily covers stress, sadness, poor self-image and a host of ill-founded ideals we've adopted. We've trained our stomachs that unless it gets to the size of an over-inflated balloon we must be still hungry.

If we could learn to rank our hunger, we’d probably discover that we are not at all hungry but are in fact eating for all the wrong reasons. Those reasons probably include a ton of non-hunger related daily triggers like feeling the need to nibble while watching TV or seeing a cookie laying on the counter as we walk by.

Mindful eating tells us to examine what we are feeling when we eat. Before you start the process or reach for a quickie snack rate your hunger, evaluate your emotions and identify your logic for eating. Mindful eating exams the type, quality and nutritional content of the foods we are about to consume.

True mindful eating even reviews the process of growing, harvesting, handling, transporting and most importantly processing. Who was involved in its production, the farmer, rancher, dairyman or the corporate flavorist and his team of chemists? Do you envision it coming from a small local site with minimal processing or do you think it came from a chemical factory with loads of flavor enhancers and chemical preservatives?

Mindful eating exams every aspect of the act of eating including the steps YOU take in its preparation, it evaluates the location at which you actually will eat (if it’s a drive-through or while grabbing a cookie on the way to the office copy machine, it’s probably foolish calories). Mindful eating evaluates the entire process of eating including odor, feel, taste even the chewing and swallowing.

Making the right choices requires thought. Mindfulness teaches us to examine hunger before snacking, to re-evaluate senses like taste and fullness while and avoid eating to quell emotions. Like any other new habit mindfulness takes practice. Try it for 30-60 days with the expectations of learning more about what you eat and why you eat.