If you are trying to maintain your weight or lose some weight, mindful eating is very important, especially when we are dealing with hormonal fluctuations in midlife, perimenopause, or menopause.
Imagine yourself eating a super healthy dish full of nutrients and veggies really, truly, yummy. Sounds awesome, right? Yes, that meal will be amazing. Visualize yourself there, how is the décor, how is the environment, how are you eating (slow, fast)?
Now add to that a little drama, such as a very noisy environment, you checking messages on social media on your phone, an unpleasant conversation, a lot of soda or wine drinking, worry feelings or just watching TV and not paying attention to the food, just walking around while eating thinking about something else.
You get the idea. Mindful eating is precisely the contrary of that. And it has many benefits to your physical and mental health.
What is mindful eating?
Eating mindfully is enjoying your food and the act of eating. Mindful eating is, in a nutshell, eating with all your senses and at least most of your focused attention. It is paying attention to your food and your body’s reaction to the food and the environment.
Why is mindful eating important to maintain or lose weight?
You probably have read that eating in front of the TV makes you fat. The reason is that when we are distracted we don’t pay attention to our body’s reaction and we don’t realize when we get full. In other words, we eat mindlessly.
Let’s see some of the reasons to eat mindfully if we want to maintain or lose weight during perimenopause and menopause.
- If you pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite, you will slow down naturally. As you know, the brain is slow to get the message from the stomach “stop eating, I am full.”
- You will chew your food more. This helps to have better digestion and better nutrient absorption. When we have the nutrients we need, that it helps you to control cravings and avoid illnesses and hormonal imbalance.
- You will enjoy your food. This will help you to eat less and control cravings
- You will be in more control over portions
- You will drink less liquid. When you chew your food, you have more saliva and you need less liquids. Excess liquids interfere with digestion.
- You will be conscious of the quantities you are eating as well as the foods you are eating.
- You will be happier. This is enough reason to eat mindfully. Your emotions affect your hormones, this will help you with hormonal balance and better digestion.
How to eat mindfully for weight loss?
There are no hard dos and don’ts, the following are only guidelines to eat more mindfully. Eating mindfully is not difficult, but in our culture we have gotten used to eating fast and while doing something else. Here are some tips to eat mindfully.
1- Sit down at the table to eat
This is the reason we have dining tables. Hopefully the table and the environment will be clutter free and peaceful. If you make eating a ritual, you will enjoy your food more and eat more mindfully.
2- Lower the noise
It is best to eat in relative silence, meaning no TVs, no cell phones, no loud music. If there is conversation, it should be a nice, easy topic. Of course this is not always possible but you can try to minimize what is in your control.
3- Chew and chew a little more
We don’t have teeth in our stomach, the more we chew the less the stomach works. In other words, the easier and faster is our digestion. This allows for faster elimination and more nutrient absorption. It also slows us down and we get full with less food.
4- Don’t drink too much
We are not talking alcohol, but all liquids. In natural medicine, we believe that drinking large amounts of liquids interferes with digestion.
5- Enjoy your food
Try to eat with all your senses. Look at your food, smell it and observe the textures and colors. After that you can put the first bite in your mouth and enjoy it.
6- Give thanks
Grace is a beautiful word. Give grace or thanks for your food and for that moment. Read stress and weight
7- Make it special
Avoid eating while walking or driving even if you are eating something small. Multitasking is a bad idea in everything. While eating you are going to eat more and not really enjoy your food.
Avoid eating while watching TV or looking at your cell phone. This is especially difficult for most people, but I least you can try to put more attention on your food. Try to limit your time on the phone and turn off the TV.
Try to avoid eating in a hurry. It is not always possible but avoid it to the max, for some people this is a habit and it is a habit that makes you anxious and contributes to weight gain.
8- Avoid guilt
Many people, especially the ones who count calories or fat grams can feel guilty when eating. Don’t, it doesn’t help, give thanks for your food and eat with gusto. Once you have decided to eat a certain food, just enjoy it or don’t eat it, but don’t overthink it.
If you feel guilty or you feel that you should be eating better, just plan for better the next time, but enjoy the present.
9- Be present
This is the heart of mindful eating. Don’t let your mind wander or get lost in conversation or social media. When eating, your focus is your food and the act of feeding your body.
Should you try mindful eating?
It is easy, it is free, and it is effective. It will help you to be healthier, skinnier and happier and it will help you balance your hormones and prevent illnesses. I think it is worth trying it. It is a gift to yourself and one of the highest forms of self-care.
Can you lose weight with mindful eating?
Let’s be honest, someone can practice mindful eating and eat large amounts and that will not be helpful, but in general mindful eating helps us eat less. Once we start mindful eating it is easier to pick healthier dishes and control cravings and those are habits that will result in weight loss and help us with hormonal balance.
Do you eat mindfully?
Learn more about how to thrive in menopause and recover your body and your health. Read about my program, the same steps I use with private clients: BLISS in Menopause