One of the most difficult concepts to really grasp is that there really are no good foods or bad foods. Many of you have most likely learned (probably at a young age) that sweets are “bad” foods and vegetables are “good” foods.
If you tell your children that they have to eat their vegetables before they can have dessert, you are teaching them that vegetables are “good” and dessert is “bad”. By assigning such a value to food, you unknowingly start this good-bad relationship with food.
Rather than good or bad foods, what if you saw them as nutritious foods and non-nutritious foods that still can be fun to eat. Depending on whether you prefer to maintain your weight or lose some extra weight, you can follow the 80/20 or 90/10 guidelines. 80% of the time eat nutritious food and 20% eat non-nutritious food. Or 90% of the time eat nutritious and 10% non-nutritious. These are just loose guidelines for you if you get anxious about only following your internal cues.
It does take a bit of practice and relearning to listen to your body’s needs of hunger, fullness and what food it needs. And before you say cookies, maybe you do need cookies, but that that would be to comfort yourself and that would be okay… if done only occasionally and not in excess.
The most important way to eat any food is mindfully, savoring each bite and appreciating the taste. If you scarf down a food mindlessly, quickly and barely tasting it, you will likely eat much more and without the enjoyment.
So don’t deprive yourself of any food. Nourish your body so you feel energized and indulge occasionally because food is meant to be enjoyed.
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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?
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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.
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