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

Are you self-sabotaging?

Are you self-sabotaging?

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I used to have an all or nothing attitude when it came to my diet and the food that I ate, I either ate really well or really bad with nothing in between. So, when I was good, I thought I was being good – in fact it was the opposite of that. I restricted calories, skipped meals and exercised to excess. Guess what, it didn’t last long. I would feel low in energy, moody, lethargic, weak, couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything and generally felt miserable. The way I was eating was unsustainable long term and deep down I knew it. I would literally crash and burn and end up going on a massive binge, eating everything I had previously restricted myself from eating. I craved sugar and refined carbohydrates for energy. The initial rush of energy would feel good for a day or two until the guilt set in! The negative feelings I had about myself became worse I would feel like a failure and the horrible cycle of the yo-yo diet would start all over again.

Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? Life is hard enough as it is juggling family, work and social commitments so why add self-torture (which is what this mentality is) to the list. I lived my life with the attitude that if I was being good then having a treat would undo all my hard work. My attitude was to hell with it, let’s just eat the entire cake, pizza, sweets, chocolate and anything else I could get my hands on. I would believe I had failed and ruined everything I had achieved so far, so why not! That attempt at one treat would turn into a month-long binge! I was self-sabotaging by falling into the mindset that I was only allowed to be good or bad never finding that healthy balance. This led me to a poor relationship food. Something I now see often in so many of my clients.

The biggest turning point for me was when I finally accepted that what I was eating and why I was eating the way I was, was down to so many factors. Stress, emotional eating and mindless eating all impact greatly on my day to day food choices. Not to mention hormones and lack of sleep to add to it! This is why it was important that I worked through those emotions, built new healthy non-restrictive habits that made me feel healthy and positively in control of my nutrition.

Creating the perfect plan for me meant that I had to no longer see myself following any kind of diet. SPOILER:  Diets DO NOT work long term! I now eat the foods my body needs for overall health and wellbeing. I no longer view a treat as a disaster, finding a healthy balance and knowing that consistency is what brings positive change, not perfection. For me now my diet is healthy 80% of the time. Generally, I eat well Monday to Friday and will enjoy a treat at the weekend. It’s not the entire weekend, maybe a pizza on a Saturday night with a bottle of wine. We can do a lot of damage over a weekend which can really impact your goals so you must be realistic. However, if on a random Tuesday afternoon, I fancied a treat or a glass of wine with my evening meal then I enjoy it, own it and move on. It is all about a healthy balance, with no damage done.

I now have the freedom to enjoy all foods from all food groups without the guilt. My mind is at ease and food is no longer all I think about anymore. I no longer feel anxious or nervous around food. I have the confidence now to make the best choices for me. Choosing food that makes me feel good! Food is meant to nourish our bodies, fuel us with the calories we need to function as human beings. It is not meant to be used as a way to punish ourselves through starvation or bingeing both of which have serious long-term side effects.

I recommend to all my clients to practice mindful eating as part of their journey to help overcome all the negative diet habits that develop over time some of which can be seriously deep routed. This is what really helped me find the healthy balance so I know it works.

So, what is Mindful Eating?

  • a peaceful eating relationship with food according to your body’s needs
  • eating to support your body’s natural healthy state
  • balance, choice, wisdom, and acceptance
  • eating consciously in a way to make our bodies feel well
  • being aware of our surroundings, mind, body, and spirit
  • being “in the moment”

Mindful eating is NOT about:

  • dieting
  • measuring or weighing food
  • restricting or avoiding foods
  • counting fat grams or calories
  • worrying about body size or the number on the scale’

Be aware of what your habits and mindless eating triggers are.  We all have them. Maybe it’s a stash of sweets in your desk drawer or eating while at your computer or on the phone. Maybe it’s when you come home from work and grab a bag of crisps or when you sit down to relax and watch a show on T.V. It could also be a trigger when you’re bored.  Think about what the triggers are for you, acknowledge it and make a plan to work on it.

For most of us, triggers come down to the habits that we have formed over the years. Many habits have us on autopilot without being consciously aware of the decisions we’re making. This is a great time to take a step back and evaluate which habits you’d like to change that will be more in alignment with your goals.

Mindful eating is an awareness that can take some time to acquire. It certainly does not come automatically for most of us.  Our environment is definitely working against us here, and so is the hectic pace so many of us are keeping.  Maybe this is a good time to evaluate some things that are causing a lot of stress and find ways to reduce it.  Stress affects us on every level – emotional, mental and physical. By taking steps to eat more mindfully, we can at least know that a few times each day we get to slow down and do something good for ourselves, our health and our bodies.

Do you suffer from self-sabotage? Are you stuck in the YO-YO diet revolving door?

As always if you need help and support to get away from the diet mentality then let me know. You can book a nutrition package with one to one personal support or simply book a free consultation call to discuss your situation and find out what tools I have in place to help you make that positive shift.

Best wishes,

Christy x