As we move away from diet culture and towards body acceptance I find many of my clients feeling confused. Can you still love and accept your body and want to change it? And if so, how to do this in a kind and sustainable way? The answer, is yes, you can! But first, I feel it is important to break down differences between dieting and mindful eating and learn how to find a structure that works for you.
There are two main differences between dieting and mindful eating. The first difference is that dieting relies on a set of concrete external rules such as what, when and how much to eat. Mindful eating is a practice of observing the body's sensations while eating. When, what and how much food is determined by the person eating responding to internal hunger and fullness cues.
The second difference is that dieting is primarily a results-oriented process, meaning that the goal of a diet is usually to lose a certain amount of weight or to manage certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Studies have shown while dieting may work in the short term that a very small percentage of subjects who lost weight while dieting were able to maintain the weight loss. Weight cycling can also affect mood, causing depression in many chronic dieters.
Mindful eating is more process-oriented, meaning that mindful eating is a long-term practice that is honed by each eating experience. According to Joseph B. Nelson in Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat, "Mindful eating is not directly linked with weight loss, however experts believe with a mindful approach, the person’s choices often are to eat less, savor eating more, and select foods consistent with desirable health benefits." Experts also believe even if the goal is to manage a certain health concern mindful eating may have better long-term results than dieting.
Sooooo what if you feel your best a few pounds lighter or want to rock a six pack for the summer? Considering females start dieting at the age of 8, jumping straight into mindful eating may be like going zero to 90. The trick is to use what we know about how the body responds to too much or not enough food to create a structure that works. Structure done well actually is freeing. We are not talking about rigid rules like only wearing pink on Wednesdays or not eating carbs after 7pm. We are talking about guidelines. Read below for some of my favorites:
Plan meals and snacks about 3-5 hours apart to prevent blood sugar crashes
When blood sugar gets too low forget savoring our bodies need food like yesterday and carbs and sugar are the fastest way to get blood glucose back up. We are also more likely to overeat past the point of comfortable fullness and in a quantity that our body can't assimilate. Whatever we can't use gets stored for later regardless if it was a carbohydrate, protein or fat.
Plan meals you like
Look I know quinoa is very healthy but I have to add so much dried fruit and dressing by the time I'm done I could have had a side of French fries and been satisfied with less. A good rule of thumb is to use the Plate method. The plate method means one half of your plate is veggies or fruits, one quarter is protein, one quarter carbohydrate. So yes one quarter French fries add a salad with some protein and enjoy.
Move your body in a way that you love at least three days a week to lower stress levels and boost endorphins
Studies have shown when we feel better we make better food choices. Also, lean muscle tissue boosts metabolic rate, exercise improves posture. Good posture makes you look taller and therefore leaner regardless of body weight. Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle so make sure you're being mindful if you're crazy hungry after workouts.
If you need help bridging structure and flexibility please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Nutrition Therapy services. Also, if you know someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to share!