Dieting can be a major problem. Diets often require you to follow strict guidelines with regards to what, how and when you eat but they don’t really do much to help you understand and listen to your body and its internal cues. Diets can make you unnecessarily anxious and worried about your calorie consumption. Dropping your caloric intake is one of the keys to weight loss but it is not the only one.
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Ditching the restrictive diet concept and adopting mindful eating habits is a far more sustainable way to shed pounds. It allows you to think about the nutritional value of your food while paying attention to what your body is telling you it needs and/or wants. Some days, you will need a little more food than you do on other days and that’s okay. You need to be able to cut yourself a little slack. If you are too stressed out about your eating, you’ll raise your stress levels which can only make things worse. When you’re stressed, your sleep will be thrown out of whack and your stress hormone, cortisol, will rise — neither is good for weight loss!
Here is how to use mindfulness to beat 5 common diet problems:
1. You don’t go to parties because you’re afraid you can’t eat what is being served.
Mindful solution: Relax. Go to the party and have a good time. Be your charming and lovely self. It is okay to have those foods now and then! If you must, limit yourself to only the foods that really speak to you. The ones that tempt you. If it doesn’t taste amazing, don’t eat it. It isn’t going to taste any better if you eat more of it. Similarly, if something tastes wonderful, enjoy it. Eat small bits and love every second of it. Slow down and TASTE it! Again, it isn’t going to taste better if you eat more so really relish in the bits you are consuming!
2. You really “want” dessert but think you “shouldn’t.”
Mindful solution: Dessert can be hard to navigate. Sweet treats trigger our brain’s reward centers and make it difficult to slow down. When dessert time rolls around, ask yourself a few questions: are you full? Is this a special occasion? If the answer is yes, have some dessert! And don’t worry about how you “shouldn’t” be eating it, just enjoy it. Slow yourself down, take your time with it. It can take your brain up to a 30 minutes to register that your stomach is full. By slowing down, you reduce your chances of overeating. Maybe you only need or have room for half of the dessert. Or maybe you end up eating the whole thing. And if you do, it’s not the end of the world. No one can white knuckle their way through life forever trying to avoid any and all temptations. Give yourself a break!
3. All of your meals from the past month have been nutritious and healthy but you didn’t really enjoy them.
Mindful solution: Eating well doesn’t mean you have to eat food that tastes like cardboard. Steamed broccoli and chicken is great but it can get old pretty fast, we get it. You can eat a wide range of nutritious meals without ever giving up on flavor. It is okay to add a little maple syrup to your morning oats or you can dip your raw veggies in some hummus. Don’t eliminate any major food groups from your diet, you won’t be able to sustain it. If you really like a certain dish and it doesn’t fit completely into your healthy eating plans, find a cleaner way of making it. There are lots of food swaps out there that can bump up the nutritional value of your meal without taking away any of the pleasure. It might take a little creativity but the effort is worth it if it gets you closer to your goals, right? If you don’t even know where to start with this sort of thing, give a meal plan a try. The BodyRock Meal Plan is an excellent place to start. It offers 30 days of meals and snacks that more than prove that healthy eating is far from boring. Full of flavor and variety, this plan is easily adaptable to your personal tastes. It comes with a nutrition guide that will help you better understand the ins and outs of clean eating so that when you are done the 30 days, you will know exactly how to plan and prepare healthy meals for the rest of your life! Stop eating food you don’t enjoy!
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4. You constantly eat celery or carrot sticks because you are always hungry.
Mindful solution: Being on a diet doesn’t mean that you should be hungry. As we said above, try not to remove whole food groups from your diet. You’d be amazed at how many calories you can cut from your diet without having to go “no carb” for example. Replace your fancy sugar laden coffees and sodas with water, or if you need flavor, fruit infused water! You’d be amazed at how many calories you save that way! When it comes to what you are eating, make sure you’re taking advantage of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. These foods are digested more slowly which means they stay in your stomach longer, keep your blood sugar level, and prevent you from feeling constantly hungry.
5. You’re afraid to eat out at restaurants.
Mindful solution: It is true, when you’re trying to eat clean, restaurants can be a scary place. But remember, you don’t have to eat all the food that gets put in front of you. Skip the bread basket and appetizers and stick to the main entree. Eat slowly and know that you can take home what you don’t finish. It is important to keep in mind that restaurant servings are ridiculously large, if you take your time, chew your food, and truly enjoy your meal, you won’t need to eat all of it. If it helps, ask your server for take home container when the food arrives and put half in the container before you even get started. If you only eat until you are satisfied, you’ll never have a problem!
Being restrictive with your diet creates an obsession with the numbers and little else. So much about losing weight and getting healthy has to do with how you feel. Doing something that makes you feel anxious or guilty will not be effective in the long run. Adopt a mindful approach! Allow yourself to eat small amounts of whatever you want. Food should never leave you with regrets!