Mindful Eating Techniques and Strategies

Does it feel like the pace of life has at least tripled compared to fifty years ago? Well, it should feel like it because the statistics are actually higher than that.

The productivity of the American worker has increased by well over 400% since then. One might think that with the advancements in technology, communication, etc., we are able to do more work in less time. Furthermore, we should be able to enjoy the same standard of living as back then while working fewer hours, right? Wrong!

Today we are going to talk about a subject that has been discussed before but from a different angle. How mindful eating and weight loss go hand in hand But first, let’s look at some of the factors that have contributed to the obesity problems that we now face.

What Is Work-Life Balance And Where Did It Go?

Today, Americans work more hours in a year than most other developed countries in the world. According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Americans work roughly 1,791 hours a year, and those without vacation benefits work around 2,250 hours a year.

Additionally, it is the only country in the world that does not have a national paid benefit for parental leave, which in most countries equals about 12 weeks but in Europe is 20 weeks. The U.S. is also the only industrialized country that does not have a minimum mandated vacation day policy.

What does all this have to do with the obesity epidemic? In 1950, only 10% of the American adult population was considered obese. Today, over 42% of adults in the United States are obese. Is this a coincidence?

The reality is that most Americans do not have a proportionate work-life balance, which is contributing to the decline of our health. Working too many hours and having fewer hours of downtime results in increased stress, less time to prepare healthy balanced meals, and little to no time to enjoy the outdoors and participate in physical activities.

How Does Our Busy Stressful Schedule Contribute To Weight Gain?

Researchers have named some of the contributing factors to the ongoing obesity epidemic as unhealthy food choices, sedentary lifestyles, socioeconomic factors, excess stress, hormone imbalances, genetics, a lack of exercise, medication side effects, etc.

In the 1950s, it was almost unheard of for a woman to work, especially if she was married. In 1970, women made up only around 43 percent of the American workforce. Most families ate meals cooked at home; kids played outside because they didn’t have electronics; and our food sources were not full of chemicals, GMO ingredients, and added sugars.

As more women entered the workforce, more families started eating “ready-to-eat” and “pre-packaged” meals that were fast and easy to prepare.

Still today, the workplace demands more and more of our time, and emails and phone calls follow us everywhere. We are all so busy and stretched for time that we eat on the run. We eat fast food while we are driving, a sandwich at our desk while we are working, snacks in front of the TV, etc.

Portion sizes are triple what they were 50 years ago, and we have become so used to them that anything less makes us feel like we don’t have enough food on our plates. Research has proven that when we have bigger portions, we naturally eat more.

What Is Mindful Eating?

We have talked about some of the lifestyle changes that have historically taken place while the obesity epidemic was simultaneously growing; now we are going to discuss some strategies for achieving balance. If we can create some balance in our lives, it will ultimately improve our health and promote weight loss.

One thing we can concentrate on is called mindful eating. This is a fancy way of saying the following things:

  • Eat only when you are hungry;
  • Do not eat when you are doing something else;
  • Pay attention to how much you are eating;
  • Eat slowly, and stop eating when you are full.

If you are like most people, you have experienced a time when you were eating something while driving, watching TV, or maybe working at your desk, and you do not even remember finishing it. This is because we are not eating mindfully but are eating while distracted.

When we eat while we are distracted, we eat more than we need to, we eat more often because we did not experience any satisfaction from eating the last thing, and we form unhealthy habits.

Mindful Eating Techniques and Strategies

If you desire to be healthy, and especially if you are trying to lose weight, you will need to think differently about your food choices. This will require some changes and possibly some basic time management.

1. Choose whole foods and avoid processed foods
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, fish, and eggs are all considered whole foods. These are foods that can be found in nature and are easily identified.
2. Cook at home the majority of the time
When we cook meals at home, we can control the “additives” that go into our meals or stay out of them. Processed and fast foods contain sodium levels that are through the roof and contribute to a variety of health conditions.

Consider purchasing some useful kitchen aids to alleviate some of the burdens of evening cooking. A crock pot or an Instant Pot are great tools that can make having a home-cooked meal much easier. In about 10 minutes, you can put a whole chicken in a crock pot, add some vegetables, 3/4 cup of water, and some herbs, and set it on low while you go to work. When you arrive home, dinner is ready.

The instant pot is a lifesaver for many people because it is so versatile. Have you ever had one of those days when you forgot to thaw the chicken breasts that were in the freezer? No worries, toss them in the instapot, and 30 minutes later you have cooked chicken that you can shred for tacos or however you want to use it. It can cook amazing soups in only 10 minutes, etc.

Most processed foods contain empty calories, which means they provide little if any nutritional value and can contain ingredients that are harmful to our health or can be addictive. (Yes, this is true!) Cooking your own meals will help you stay healthier and maintain a healthy BMI.

3. Read labels at the grocery store
Try to avoid high sodium, added sugar, refined white flour, and other unhealthy ingredients. The more ingredients listed on the label that you cannot pronounce, the faster you should put it back on the shelf.
4. Choose healthy easy to prepare snacks
Baby carrots, nuts, raisins, dates, apples, grapes, etc. all make great snacks that you can have ready to go in the fridge or pantry so they are easy to grab. If you take some time one day to do some preparation and portion out individual servings into a container or zip-lock bag, it makes it even easier in the long run.
5. Eat only when sitting at the table and eat slowly
Research has shown that making a habit of sitting at the table while eating and doing nothing else forms good habits. It is easier to concentrate on eating without being distracted, so we will begin to listen to our bodies and comprehend the signals that we are full and should stop eating. It can take up to 20 minutes for you to become aware that you are full. If you’re like most people, it’ll be too late by then! Eating slowly and mindfully gives our brain enough time to let the rest of us know that we are satisfied.
6. Use a smaller plate
Our brain is easily fooled, but by the same token, it likes to fool us too. Research has shown that putting the same amount of food on a large plate and a small plate causes our brains to react differently. If our brain sees three small portions of food on a large plate, it thinks there is not enough food, but if it sees the same portions on a small plate, it thinks that it looks like a lot of food.
Portion size for weight loss

Try to incorporate these strategies into your life gradually and see what a difference they can make.

Adding Balance And Destressing

Weight-loss experts tell us that stress causes our bodies to release a chemical called cortisol. This chemical promotes fat retention and inhibits weight loss. When you are trying to get healthier and lose weight, managing your stress levels is crucial.

1. Set boundaries for yourself and others about work-related calls, emails, meetings, etc.
2. Schedule deliberate de-stressing activities
Is there something you like to do that relaxes you? Deliberately set aside time to do it. You are worth it, you deserve it, and it is important to your health.
3. Get some exercise every day
Exercise is a vital part of staying healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. This does not mean you have to spend countless hours at the gym. A 20-minute walk around the neighborhood, housework, gardening, riding a bike, playing badminton, shooting some hoops in the driveway—anything that gets you moving for a bit.

If you have smaller children and it is hard for you to have time on your own, pull them in a wagon while you take a short walk or have an impromptu dance party in the living room after dinner for 15 minutes.

4. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated helps lower blood pressure and flush toxins out of the system faster, which helps your body function properly.
5. Get an adequate amount of sleep
Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can inhibit weight loss and increase cortisol levels.
This Is The Key To Losing Weight Successfully!

Having a 6-month weight loss plan can help you lose weight and form lifelong habits to sustain that weight loss after reaching your ideal weight.

Understandably, we cannot control all of the factors that cause weight gain or inhibit our ability to lose weight. If we begin taking control of our food choices, create some balance in our lives so we can better manage stress, and practice mindful eating, weight loss will follow.

Making lifestyle changes takes time, but they will ultimately pay off in health benefits that are too numerous to count. If you need help incorporating these changes or do not know where to start with regard to healthy menus or nutrition, we can help.

At Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center, we offer our comprehensive OnTrack program that can help guide you through these changes. We have a full support staff that will provide the help and guidance you need to succeed and reach your weight loss goals.

Contact us today, we would love the opportunity to speak to you about how we can best help you.

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