Saturday, 9 June 2012

Unconcious Eating

The weather this week has been very poor (wet and windy) and as a result time on the bike has been limited. One of the results of not getting out on the bike has been that exercise has focused on the rowing machine which gives a good work out but does not match the bike in terms of calories burnt for the amount of time spent exercising. Also it's not quite as enjoyable to spend 1-2 hours on a rowing machine indoors, as it is on the bike. 

Less overall time spent exercising and less calories being burnt each day has meant that I have had to refocus on the food I am eating at meal times to ensure my meals provide the nutrition I need and try to minimise "calorie wastage" through empty or non beneficial carbs such as those found in many "low fat" meals. The other thing I have had to do this week because I haven't had a huge surplus of calories to use on treats is avoid eating snacks between meals that don't contribute any beneficial nutrition e.g . chocolate, crisps etc.

Because I have been a bit more focused on nutrition and the way in which food is actually consumed I was reminded of the need to be aware of "Unconscious eating".

Weight loss experts frequently explain that addressing the habit of unconscious eating is one of the best ways to lose weight without having that feeling of "doing without" that often leads to diets failing. Unconscious eating, as the name suggests, is what happens when we treat food or meals as a means to an end or simply as a function of daily life.    

Here are some of the things I've learnt about overcoming unconscious eating over the last five months.

Don’t wait until you’re starving. When you’re really hungry, you eat too fast, ignoring the signs that tell you that you that your stomach taken in enough food and that it doesn't NEED anymore. Therefore, you’re much less likely to notice when you’re full. 

Try to avoid distractions. Give your food your full attention, or you’re almost certain to eat more than you need to, or even want to. Eat in a calm environment where you can focus on the eating experience with a minimum of distractions.

Avoid eating too many social meals. When we eat with a crowd of people, such as at a business lunch or pub, we are much less able to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

When you can, be part of the preparation process. (Even if that just means emptying a bag of salad into a bowl, making a sandwich, or heating up leftovers.) This gives you time to focus on the anticipation and enjoyment of what you’re about to eat. 

Eat mindfully. Take a deep breath, relax, and remind yourself to eat slowly. Take small bites, and notice the taste in your mouth. Chew each bite thoroughly. Try to focus on one bite at a time, rather than anticipating the next bite while you’re still eating the previous one. Take the time to enjoy your food!!

Quiet racing thoughts. Have you ever sat down to eat a meal, and the next thing you know the meal is finished? Of course the mind wanders – that’s what minds do. But when you get caught up in worrying about or analysing something, you’re bound to get distracted and eat unconsciously.

Give yourself time – and a break. Remind yourself that you’re just taking a few minutes to eat a meal; all the things you need to do can wait a few minutes for your attention. If you’re really anxious or stressed out, stop eating and jot down a to-do list, then set it aside until you’re done eating.

You don't have to clear the plate Listen to your stomach, when you feel full stop eating. In modern western society we tend to put far more food on a plate than we actually need and we feel compelled to clear the plate because we don' want to waste food, forget feeling bad about waste and listen to what your stomach is telling you. 

Still feeling hungry after a meal. You know the feeling, you've finished your food and you are still hungry. When this happens don't reach for more food, be patient and wait for the food you have just eaten to digest. Food takes 20-30 minutes to start to hit the stomach and start to digest, so try and wait at least this amount of time before deciding you need more food.

Of all of the above points, eating mindfully has been the one that has made the most difference for me over the last few months. Meals are an event during the day that are enjoyed rather than something that is done simply because it is "meal time" or I am hungry. Food does taste better when I focus on the meal and I do feel more satisfied with less food when I eat slowly. 

And, as much as I like a bit of ZZ Top, it's probably best not to pay to much attention to the advice the guys are giving out in this video - TV dinners are not the answer! 

Thanks for taking the time to visit and read the blog, hope you can come back soon.


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