Keeping the Weight Off with Intuitive Eating Habits
The road to weight loss is paved with many potholes. From poor lifelong eating and exercise habits to toxic dieting culture, it's no wonder that a large percentage of people who take on the everyday challenges of meeting their goal weight end up regaining some if not all of the pounds back eventually.
When combating old habits such as emotional eating, overeating, binge eating, and a largely sedentary lifestyle, the tendency for many bariatric patients and dieters is to try and reverse the trend with a slew of rules and restrictions. And while calorie counting and logging food and exercise habits on a daily basis can be a great visual tool for moderation, accountability, and goal-setting, ultimately when used as a standalone approach, these practices neglect several vital components for long-term sustainability.
Over time, subjected to daily stress and outside pressures, it becomes more and more difficult to follow restrictions and abide by all of the rules all of the time; below we'll talk about how our weight loss meal plans and how mindful eating habits play into that.
Diets are focused on outcomes: the number on the scale, the pant size, the blood test results. Setting healthy habits and meeting goals are effective strategies when it comes to weight loss. However, focusing on these solely is a 2-dimensional approach.
In fact, let's scrap the word "diet" right now and replace it simply with "eating". Seeing food as food, not assigning it a moral value, and not focusing all of your emotional efforts on restriction will be the first step in reestablishing food normalcy and learning to love and respect your body no matter how close you are to your goals.
Bettering Habits Post-Bariatric Surgery
Are you thinking about food all of the time? Do you worry about the foods you just ate? Do you use terms such as "can/can't", "should/shouldn't" or "good/bad" to describe what goes into your mouth?
Conventional diet culture will have us believe that food and exercise are rewards and punishments; that we "deserve" ice cream because we bought kale; that we should ignore our body's natural signals. If this is you, you’re dieting.
As part of a well-rounded approach that considers the whole person, we should all be practicing mindful eating instead. Mindful eating is designed to supplement calorie counting and exercise with effective behavioral changes that are sustainable over the long term, and targets behaviors to elicit natural changes that don't rely on unhealthy practices. As a mindful eater, you will learn to accept your mistakes graciously and move past them quickly; there will be times when you'll forget to or simply not want to eat mindfully and being able to consider this part of the learning process will be critical to success.
At its most basic, mindful eating involves:
- Learning to distinguish between hunger and emotion
- Forgiving "failures" and actively coping with guilt
- Not assigning food good or bad values
- Allowing foods to be pleasurable
- Appreciating a myriad of foods
- Eating for you
Here are a few basic tips to help you get started:
- Avoid eating while engaging in other activities such as preparing dinner, watching TV or browsing Instagram
- Eliminate the stress of grocery shopping with ready meals and weight loss plans
- Use plates and utensils, avoid eating with hands or out of the container
- Plan ahead, whether for a busy week, extended travel or the holidays
- Eat when you're hungry instead of ignoring hunger cues
- Make sure you have access to foods you like eating
- Organize and care for your kitchen
- Use smaller plates and bowls
- Don't skip snacks
- Don't under-eat
- Eat a variety
- Eat slowly
Mindful eating isn't easy. Even equipped with the knowledge, eating consciously takes patience, practice and persistence. That's particularly true if you have a longstanding poor relationship with food and have a tendency to lose control around certain foods. That said, everyone is a candidate for mindful eating and there's never a bad time to start or an effort too small.