Over the years, most of us have believed that the only way to lose weight was by restricting our calories and our food intake. Now we understand that what you eat is so much more important than how much you eat. The problem with the calorie in, calorie out line of thinking is that it’s a very simplistic theory that doesn’t account for how food is metabolized. The good news is the body is self-regulating, and that’s where the magic lies! When you eat the right foods, and listen to the cues your body is sending you, you can never go wrong.
Your body will tell you how much to eat, and when to eat. As you make the right food choices and listen to the cues your body is sending you, you will begin to gain better health, while your body returns to its natural weight set point (the weight you were naturally meant to be.) For most people who are overweight, this will equate to sustainable weight loss over time.
Practicing mindful eating is actually very simple. You eat nourishing, satisfying meals, and you follow a few straightforward guidelines:
- Eat when you’re hungry, and only when you’re hungry. Never eat a meal just because it’s noon, or six pm.
- Eat slowly. Take the time to chew your food and to enjoy your meal. When you eat too quickly, it’s harder to notice when you’re full, and it’s easy to eat more than you need.
- Take a reasonable portion size. You can always take more if you’re still hungry after it’s gone. It’s easy to overeat if you start out with too much in your plate.
- Stop eating when you feel full, but not over-stuffed. You should feel satisfied, comfortable, and no longer hungry when you’re done eating.
- Wait 15-20 minutes before going back for seconds. Sometimes it takes a while for your brain to catch up with your stomach and tell you that you’re full.
- Never leave the table hungry. If you find that you’re still hungry, go get more food!
- Eat whenever you feel physically hungry. There are no rules on how many meals a day you can or must eat. Just make sure that you’re eating because you feel physically hungry, and not because of other reasons like boredom, emotional distress, or to be social.
- If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. You may find that after a good breakfast, you’re not hungry for hours! Again, eat in accordance with your own body. If breakfast was at 8am but you’re not hungry until 3pm, don’t eat again until 3pm.
At first it may be difficult to hear what your body is saying. It takes a little time and attention, but over time it will get easier. You may also find it hard to stop worrying about how many calories you’re eating, but have faith in the fact that the body is amazing and knows exactly how much it needs. Your body will adjust your caloric intake from one day to the next, based on your activity levels, how much rest you’re getting, and your physical needs.