Becoming A More Mindful Eater

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If you’re like many women with PCOS, you know you need to eat healthier and you want to, but may find yourself bingeing or emotional eating at times. You may even feel that changing your eating habits is hopeless because of an internal tug-of-war. For some, eating behaviors and attitudes are life-long and deeply ingrained, making them feel almost impossible to change. The reality is anyone can change their eating patterns.

They just need the right motivation, support and resources.

Mindless eating, unlike emotional eating or disconnected eating, can occur without your realizing it. Mindless eating occurs when you eat without paying attention to what you are doing. It’s like driving down a familiar road for the thousandth time and not remembering whether or not you stopped at all the stop signs. The trip was mindless. Your mind was elsewhere. Mindless eating is just like that. Your mind is elsewhere and not focused on the food you are eating. This can be problematic if you are trying to make healthier food choices.

This article discusses mindful eating and specific exercises you can practice to become a more mindful eater.

 

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is about enjoying food and nourishing your body. It’s noticing the taste of food, the smell, texture, and how it feels in your body. It’s about eating a variety of foods, free of judgments.

Mindful eating is about being physically connected to the food you eat by recognizing and responding to your body’s internal cues of hunger, satiety and fullness. Not trusting your body to determine how much food you need — or if you’re eating is disconnected — can cause you to eat more than needed.

This results in weight gain or failure to lose weight.

 

Keep a Food Journal

To heal the disconnection you have between your body and food, you have to be mindful of your eating. Although mindful eating sounds simple: “Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full,” it’s anything but simple when you’ve struggled with eating and weight your whole life. The key to mindful eating is staying in touch with internal cues of hunger and fullness. The result: Your body gets the appropriate energy it needs. Mindful eating helps better control your blood sugar and insulin levels, helping you lose weight. 

A good place to start is by keeping a food journal and keeping track of your degree of physical hunger and satisfaction using a rating scale from 1 (completely empty) to 10 (stuffed to the max). Each time you sit down to eat, rate how hungry you are. Pay attention to what you are experiencing when you are hungry. Notice what happens if you are hungry and don’t eat right away. When you finish eating, rate how satisfied you are.

Notice if you are physically uncomfortable, satisfied, or didn’t eat enough. If you were feeling full or satisfied, notice if you are you able to leave food on your plate.

Do this exercise as much as possible with your meals. Try eating before you are starving and stopping before you are uncomfortably full.

 

Sit Down and Pay Attention

Have you ever been watching TV or driving while you eat and suddenly the food is gone? Maybe you ate it all and didn’t remember tasting it. Sometimes you don’t know what it looked or smelled like. How satisfying is that? You missed out on the pleasure of several sensations. When your mind is focused on other things, your body has difficulty identifying what your body is experiencing. Your body may have needed less food but because you weren’t eating mindfully, you may have eaten more than you needed. This is when problems with weight management arise.

As much as you can, sit down at a table and eat without distraction. Really notice the food in front of you-how it looks and smells. Slow down and really taste your food. Notice its texture as well as flavor. Do this with each bite. With practice, mindful eating will become easier.

 

Seek Assistance

A good place to start learning more about mindful eating is The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health. The PCOS Workbook has been shown to be an effective tool to reduce anxiety, depression, and problematic eating. This bestselling self-help guide covers topics such as mindfulness to manage stress, helpful advice to be a more mindful eater, as well as other ways to take control over PCOS.

In addition, working with a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in PCOS and distorted eating like the ones at the PCOS Nutrition Center. can also help you become a more mindful eater.

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