Mindfulness and Weight Loss
This blog was written by Abby Forman, MS, RD.
The majority of people who follow restrictive diets that put strict rules on what or how much you can and can’t eat, regain the weight within five years. Almost two-thirds regain more weight than they initially lost. This says something very powerful about “dieting”: it works in the short term (maybe), but does not get to the root of our weight gain.
Those who adopt small changes for a healthier eating lifestyle have greater success in the long run. How can we do that? One of the first steps to making lifelong changes is to have an awareness of what your current eating behaviors are, and why . Practicing mindfulness with our food includes being aware of internal hunger and fullness cues, not using food for stress relief, choosing enjoyable and wholesome foods, thinking through food choices instead of relying on impulse, and nonjudgmentally accepting food preferences. Research has shown that increasing mindfulness can not only help with weight loss, but it can also decrease overall stress, body image, and affect food preferences.
Try this introductory mindful eating exercise, “Raisin Consciousness” developed by expert Dr. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues. Are you a mindful eater?
Raisin Consciousness (source: University of Minnesota)
- Sit comfortably in a chair.
- Place a raisin in your hand.
- Examine the raisin as if you had never seen it before.
- Imagine it as its “plump self” growing on the vine surrounded by nature.
- As you look at the raisin, become conscious of what you see: the shape, texture, color, size. Is it hard or soft?
- Bring the raisin to your nose and smell it.
- Are you anticipating eating the raisin? Is it difficult not to just pop it in your mouth?
- How does the raisin feel? How small it is in your hand?
- Place the raisin in your mouth. Become aware of what your tongue is doing.
- Bite ever so lightly into the raisin. Feel its squishiness.
- Chew three times and then stop.
- Describe the flavor of the raisin. What is the texture?
- As you complete chewing, swallow the raisin.
- Sit quietly, breathing, aware of what you are sensing.