Most people don’t like counting calories. At the very least, they would like to be able to reach their goals without having to do it. And they’d rather not have to track calories for every meal, every day, every year for the rest of their lives.
So how do you do that?
Enter Mindful Eating
When you tell someone to “eat mindfully” it makes sense and sounds good, but it’s still a very abstract concept. How do you do it? What does it entail?
In its very simplest form, eating mindfully means to pay attention. With all the food logging apps and distractions out there we’ve unknowingly divorced ourselves from our own body’s intuition.
We don’t even know what hunger feels like. We time our eating based on the clock. We stop eating based on what a calorie calculator says or when the food is gone from our plate.
All of these things are the opposite of mindful eating and take you further away from that goal. It makes you dependent on external tools to validate your hunger.
It’s time to turn inward and start trusting yourself around food again. You possess the capability to eat an optimum amount of food for a healthy body composition. But you’re going to have to put in the work.
In the end, the freedom is worth it.
Getting Satisfaction From Your Food
Eating enjoyment is key to your success. The ultimate goal is to get as much satisfaction from your food eating as few calories as possible.
When you base your lifestyle change around that concept you end up lighter, freer, healthier, and happier. And as you practice it more and more, it gets easier and easier.
Eventually you’re able focus on living your life while the eating happens in the background, as opposed to being obsessed with your eating while your life gets pushed aside.
So how do you get more satisfaction from your food?
Slow. Mindful. 80% full.
That is the core mindset for your eating approach. You eat slowly, mindfully, and stop at 80% full.
Eating slowly triggers you to be mindful, and being mindful helps you reap more satisfaction from your food and tune into your hunger so you stop before you’ve overeaten.
You still plan your meals. You just eat them based on your body’s feedback. Let’s look at an example.
For simplicity’s sake you plan out 5 equal 300 calorie meals for a total of 1500 calories/day. It looks like this…
- Meal 1 – 300 calories
- Meal 2 – 300 calories
- Meal 3 – 300 calories
- Meal 4 – 300 calories
- Meal 5 – 300 calories
- TOTAL = 1500 calories
Without mindful eating you probably ate all that food. Why? Because you thought you were supposed to. That’s what the calorie app said to do.
Now, look at what happens when you eat that same meal plan slowly, mindfully, and stop at 80% full…
- Meal 1 – 300 calories
- Meal 2 – 275 calories
- Meal 3 – 280 calories
- Meal 4 – 310 calories
- Meal 5 – 250 calories
- TOTAL = 1415 calories
Not only did you end up eating fewer calories, but because you ate mindfully, you fully reaped the satisfaction from your meals.
The best part of mindful eating is that the skill set can be taken anywhere with you. Whether you’re on vacation, at a birthday party, at your family’s house for a holiday, in a business meeting, or out with friends for the weekend, you are armed with the tools necessary to enjoy yourself and maintain a healthy body weight.
You don’t need to pack food. You don’t need to seek out calorie info on menus. You don’t need to log your food while sitting at the dinner table.
You trust yourself. You eat mindfully. You enjoy your food. And you live your life.
Skills Take Practice
Mindful eating is a skill. Most of us were born eating this way but have slowly delegated this part of our life to external tools. This can be reversed. But it takes practice.
Too many people are quick to give up on it because they think they should get it right on the first try. They start eating and they don’t know what 80% feels like. They don’t know when to stop eating.
So they give up at the first signs of a struggle.
Did you give up when you fell off your bike the first time? Did you stop driving your car simply because it felt weird to drive the first time? Did you give up on reading when you didn’t know how to say a new word?
No. You persisted through that struggle. And now those things happen on autopilot.
The same will happen with mindful eating. You have to practice it. It’s a skill. And like all skills, the more you practice them the better you get.
Eventually you’ll stop obsessing over food and calories. You’ll stop letting other people or electronic devices dictate your food choices. Food will stop controlling you.
But you have to be willing to fail a bit at the beginning. You’ll have to keep trying. Eventually you’ll know the optimum amount of food to eat – an amount that makes you 100% satisfied, makes you feel healthy and energized in body and mind.
Start working towards that goal one meal at a time.