Mindful Eating - A Simple Strategy To Help Satisfy Your Hunger
With Amber Kay
When you first have WLS, not only are you really restricted in the amount of food and liquids that you can have, but you also have to dramatically slow down the speed that you eat and drink at - no doubt you will have experienced some severe discomfort if you've ever forgotten to do this, and you ate or drank too quickly.
This is one of the reasons why WLS is such a powerful tool and so effective for weight loss - especially in the first year. The problem however is that many people who have had WLS gradually start to speed up their eating and drinking over time. They find themselves being able to get away with being less diligent about sitting down and eating slowly, and over time they may find themselves back to old habits of rushing food, multi-tasking at meal times and eating 'on the go'... and this can contribute to unnecessary weight gain.
It may seem harmless, but if you start to eat your food quicker again, stressing in front of your computer, driving your car, racing to your next appointment or distracted by the television, then the chances are your hunger just won’t be satisfied properly. What this means for you is that you may end up eating far too much as well, and this can lead you off track after your WLS.
Simply by refocussing again on how you’re eating is a simple strategy that you can do to help you get back on track or stay on track. When you eat slowly and 'mindfully', you'll not only reduce the amount that you eat, you'll also enjoy your food more (as you appreciate every flavour and texture), and your digestion will be better. If food isn’t chewed properly it means that there’s much more work for the rest of your digestive system to do.
We’ve set out some tips to help you eat more 'mindfully' below.
Mindful Eating Guidelines:
1. Only eat sitting down.
This is a great way to increase mindfulness. Avoid eating while standing or walking around. Sit down on a chair or at a table, preferably in a quiet, peaceful environment.
2. Eat slowly.
Take as long as you can with your meal. It can take a while (up to 20 minutes) for your food to reach your gut and to start being absorbed, and it's only then that your body starts to release satiety hormones which feed back to the brain to tell you that you're full. Ideally you want to make a meal last around 20-30 minutes.
3. Go for quality not quantity.
By choosing smaller amounts of good quality, healthy food, you'll not only enjoy it more, you're far more likely to be satisfied without having to overeat. Serve the food on small side plates to keep the portions down.
Chew until the food is liquefied to break it down for your body and make it easier to digest.
5. Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls.
It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork. Cut the food into small pieces.
6. Stop multitasking at meal times.
It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment or distraction. In particular, avoid reading the paper or watching the news – this is a really unhealthy habit as it invariably increases the stress hormones in your body, which increase your appetite and shift blood away from your digestive system.
7. Appreciate the appearance of your food.
Simply by looking at your food, you increase mindfulness – this stimulates your stomach juices and prepares your body for digestion.
8. Focus on each mouthful.
Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth. This will slow you down and increase the enjoyment of your meal.
Our final piece of advice is to start small. Choose one meal each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time. Like all new habits, it’s best to set realistic expectations.
Eating more mindfully will not only help satisfy your hunger and reduce your weight, it will also increase your enjoyment of your food, it will help you feel more comfortable after your meals and it will help to get you back on track!