Three easy ways to eat mindfully and lose weight

Obesity is back in the headlines with a new study from Cancer Research UK finding that being overweight substantially increases the risk of women developing womb cancer. With the most recent obesity statistics by Public Health England reporting that two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese, the problem is at a crisis point.

But we all know that diets don’t work; one survey found that the average Briton will start and fail a staggering 189 diets in their lifetime and attempt three diets every year, 97 per cent of which are doomed to fail. So what’s the answer? Many nutrition professionals believe it lies with mindful eating, an approach which, according to the Association of UK Dietitians, encourages positive eating behaviours and healthy eating choices. Here’s how…

1. Eat with awareness

In practice, mindful eating simply means eating with awareness, in other words giving ourselves permission to eat well, to take the time needed to make conscious food choices and to enjoy the act of eating, rather than mindlessly eating in front of the TV. To start, try these simple techniques for more mindful mealtimes:

  • Allow extra time for meals and eat more slowly.
  • Chew thoroughly and notice the flavours and textures of the food as you eat it.
  • Eliminate distractions, put all screens away and eat at the table.
  • Stop eating when you start to feel full – it takes 20 minutes after eating to feel completely full.

2. Plan your meals and focus on wholefoods

You’ll be far less likely to reach for convenience foods if you have all the ingredients to hand for a healthy meal, so dig out the cookbooks on a Sunday and make a meal plan for the week.

Try to include foods that are high in nutritional value, are minimally processed and have no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or unrecognisable ingredients, such as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs and wholegrains .A really nutritious menu for the day, that is naturally lower in calories if you are trying to lose weight, would look like this:

  • Breakfast: Make a vegetable omelette by wilting some spinach in with the eggs and top with chopped tomato, avocado and spring onion.
  • Lunch: Soup is always a great lunchtime option but choose (or make) one that contains lentils or beans for protein and fibre. Have with wholegrain bread.
  • Dinner: End the day with some heart-healthy oily fish, mackerel or salmon perhaps, marinated in soy sauce, sherry vinegar, honey, garlic and ginger, baked in the oven and served with broccoli and brown rice.

3. For weight loss, turn down the volume

To accelerate weight loss, rather than focus on restriction or cutting out certain foods as diets tend to do, simply be more mindful of the quantity of food you are eating. Aim to eat around 20 per cent less than normal at mealtimes – you’ll hardly notice any difference except when you step on the scales.

Another mindful eating technique that’s helpful for weight loss is to tune into your body’s natural appetite and eat accordingly. Some days you’ll be ravenous, on others you’ll hardly think of food at all. Capitalise on those times when you are not particularly hungry and eat less. Many of us have lost touch with the feeling of being hungry and overeat by sheer force of habit.

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