Why Mindful Eating is Your Secret Weapon Against Cravings

Why Mindful Eating is Your Secret Weapon Against Cravings

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Hands up if you’ve tried pretty much everything to kiss goodbye to cravings and had no luck whatsoever?

With mindful eating, you don’t need to spend heaps of time and energy on crushing your cravings completely.

Telling yourself that you absolutely can’t have a particular food can work against you in the long term.

Think of it this way: if I tell you not to think about a pink elephant, guess what immediately pops up in your mind? No matter how hard you try, it’s super hard to shift the mental image of the pink elephant!

Your cravings can be a little bit like this too. Denying yourself completely often means that they don’t magically go away, even if you take tons of action to distract yourself. It’s pretty common for them to actually get stronger … a lot like the thought of the pink elephant.

It can also encourage a “now or never” way of thinking if you do give in to the craving. Often, this means that you’ll eat far more than you intended. After all, you’re not supposed to be eating it again seeing as it’s off-limits, right? In reality, it will most likely happen again and you’ll carry on feeling bad about it.

There’s another problem with craving ultra-processed food: according to research, it affects hunger hormones and makes it harder for your body to recognise when you’re genuinely full. Unsurprisingly, this means eating a lot more calories than you would otherwise … usually involving other unhealthy foods.

Another finding from the study involved the speed at which food was being eaten. The group eating the ultra-processed food tended to eat more quickly, leading researchers to question whether this was a big factor in the brain being able to recognise signals that they were full.

How mindful eating turns the tables on cravings

Mindful eating can really come into its own in several different areas. In a nutshell, it puts you back in control of your food choices, which can often feel impossible when you’re constantly trying to beat your cravings into submission.

A few reasons why mindful eating can work so well:

You’re not giving in to your cravings and letting them take control but you are allowing yourself a little bit of what you fancy and taking the opportunity to relish it. Your mind knows that there will be other chances to satisfy the craving so the “now or never” mentality isn’t a big issue. The end result? It’s a whole heap easier to bring your cravings in check.

The trick is to be super-mindful with how you eat. When you take that first bite of something you’ve been craving, resist the urge to dive straight into the next one. Put your fork, knife or spoon down in between bites or keep putting your food down if you’re eating with your hands. The more you can chew each bite before swallowing, the better.

Take the time to really notice the taste and texture as you chew. This bit might surprise you, especially if you’re used to eating quickly on autopilot. If you’re eating junk foods, being more mindful with your eating might flag up how salty, sugary or just plain processed the taste truly is. And chances are, it’s going to be a whole lot less appealing once you get clued into this.

Even if this doesn’t happen, taking more time to savour your food helps you to enjoy it more and sometimes, you’ll realise that your cravings weren’t quite as strong as you thought and feel satisfied after just a few bites.

It can also lift the lid on why you’re getting cravings in the first place. Sometimes, you’ll know exactly what’s behind it but it won’t always be this obvious. Being more mindful with your eating can get to the bottom of what is triggering your cravings and the emotions that may be a factor.

It’s not always easy to get to grips with mindful eating, especially if you’re used to eating quick and not tuning in to your body’s hunger signals. Over time, it gets a lot easier to overcome unhealthy relationships with food, including cravings, overeating and emotional eating.

According to the results of a 2014 study, a mindful approach to eating can help to build a healthier relationship with body image and curb “disordered eating” such as binge eating. And from a cravings perspective, many of the women who took part in the study also reported that they spent less time yearning for high fat and sugary treats.

If you’re struggling with cravings, mindful eating could be the lifestyle change that helps you to get back in control of your eating habits and spend more time enjoying what you eat.

Best wishes,

Christy x

Binge Eating vs Emotional Eating

Binge Eating vs Emotional Eating

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When does indulging in your favourite snack cross the line from comfort to concern?

The difference between emotional eating and binge eating lies mainly in how much food you consume. But, other key features may help you distinguish between the two and put an end to unhealthy snacking.

Emotional Eating

Stress manifests in different ways, but most of us can relate to the concept of emotional eating. Ever catch yourself wallowing in a container full of ice cream after a particularly stressful day? Emotional eating or stress eating is when you consume food not out of hunger, but out of anxiety, frustration, or sadness. For some, emotional eating is triggered by a particularly traumatic event but for others, it can just be a habitual reaction to financial or emotional turbulence.

But don’t worry- emotional eating is somewhat normal, and in some cases, better for your mental health depending on how you handle it.

In fact, emotional eating can be great for relieving stress with THE RIGHT FOODS, provided it doesn’t get too out of hand. Eating puts our body into a state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nerves. Indulging in and savouring the flavours of food feels good and can lift our moods instantly.

But when emotional eating no longer relieves but rather contributes to stress, it can get out of hand.

At a point, emotional eating gives way to self-loathing as we feel ashamed of our indulgence. We want to hide our “binging” episodes, but because of a lack of other emotional coping mechanisms, they spiral out of our control.

To prevent emotional eating from advancing to the next stage, we need to tackle the problem at its roots: stress, frustration, and other emotional ruts.

Take up meditation or yoga to simultaneously tackle stress and improve your self-discipline. Engage in a stress-free activity like painting or fishing and take plenty of time to distance yourself from whatever may be causing your stress – whether that is work, a stressful home environment, or relationship woes.

To make sure your stress eating never borders on binge eating, keep a food journal. Records of your day-to-day eating choices will help prevent you from putting on unwanted pounds and improve your overall mindfulness when it comes to consumption.

And finally, to manage your emotional eating in a far more healthier way, look for healthy alternatives to your favourite go-to snacks such as oven baked sweet potato fries instead of the regular deep fried kind or carrot sticks and hummus instead of crisps.

Binge Eating

Binge eating, unlike stress eating, is considered by nutritionists as a potentially severe eating disorder. Characterised by constant overconsumption, BED (Binge Eating Disorder) involves consuming huge quantities of food in a relatively short span of time. It’s not just your average bloated belly after a heavy dinner, but a constant overeating that leaves the body uncomfortable and unhealthy.

The transition from emotional eating to binge eating occurs when you lose your sense of control: you move from being conscious of your reason for eating and how much you eat, to eating without any control over intake. It often leads to guilty eating, which is worse for your mental health and stress levels as well. This leads to a vicious cycle: your stress turns into binge eating, and your binge eating fuels your stress.

What’s worse is that the guilt of binge eating (which usually occurs when alone) traps us in a “shame cage”- we don’t want to reach out to friends or family for fear of revealing ourselves.

But the BED is too serious of a condition to keep under wraps. Instead, it is vital to talk to someone if you are experiencing any one of its symptoms. Your attitude towards your body image, your history with other mental health complications, and eating habits, in general, could be contributing to BED.

Total recovery from binge eating is absolutely possible. It doesn’t need to take over your life. To start your healing process I encourage you to keep a food journal to track your habits to work out the emotional triggers that affect your binge eating and the thoughts and feelings you have while on a binge episode. This gives you amazing insights into the WHY of your situation so that you can easily manage the HOW of getting out of it.

Remember to remain body-positive. I am always here to talk if you need to. You can take advantage of my free consultation call if you feel you need some 1:1 guidance. It’s my way of giving back – I’ve been on the binge eating path and having someone to lean on is the only way forward.

Christy x