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#6 The Mindful Eating Cycle: how to stop overeating & improve health- Part Two

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

In this second part of the subject, we briefly look at Science-based Mindfulness Tips to Stop overeating. Weight gain is not a hard thing to achieve for most of us. It all boils down to our decision making.

Decisions, decisions, decisions- should you have tea, hot coffee, milk or cream and sugar, with your breakfast? Or maybe some other beverage? Should you make it and eat it at home or purchase it on your way to work?

Decisions, decisions, decisions- so many of them when we haven't woken up fully yet; it is easy to see how we get overwhelmed before the day starts. In our overwhelming state, we go for the easiest and quickest, usually the least healthy.

As you can see, if you start your day eating mindless-ly -the likelihood of continuing in that mode for the rest of the day is high.

Eating and Thinking

You know the story- we arrived home after a long stressful day at work and commuted and must face the children and their needs. We mindlessly reach for anything that we can find to whip up for Dinner quickly to fed hungry mouths. If you live alone, the temptation is to get the meal over and done with is limiting, so you may reach for a bowl of cereal rather than a decent meal. Preparing meals 'mindlessly' leads to eating mindlessly. Eating 'mindlessly' is eating without thinking about what you are doing and why. Hundreds of decisions are worked upon by your unconscious mind and can lead to mindless eating instead of mindful eating. The problem with 'mindless' eating may cause you to overeat more than your body needs and weight gain results.

Behavioural scientists believe one of the main reasons people overeat is because they rely on external rather than internal cues to decide whether they feel hungry or full. Mindfulness eating is about being aware of internal cues that are both helpful and unhelpful.

When You are Eating Mind-lessly, you are:

· You often eat with distractions.

· You don't appreciate the taste of your food.

· You eat to cope with emotions.

· You eat out of boredom.

· You eat faster than everyone else around you.

· You suffer from indigestion or wind caught in your chest.

When You are Eating Mind-fully, you are:

o You are staying aware of what you are doing and its effects on your body—both good and bad.

o You are using all of your senses in choosing and experiencing food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.

o You are acknowledging your responses to food based on your senses like this texture and taste.

o You are practising awareness of your emotions, physical hunger, and the cues that let you know when you have eaten enough to fulfil your hunger.

Eating Mindfully is not about counting calories. Mindful eating can free you from the counting treadmill. Instead of counting calories and worrying about what you eat, you can build a positive and enjoyable relationship with food, leading to a happier and healthier you.

The positive psychology. com points out that Dr May coined the term "The Mindful Eating Cycle" and used it as the basis of her book- Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle May 2017- updated 2020.

I have listed her research below to help you set out a mindful eating plan by first asking yourself these fundamental questions. It would be helpful to you if you wrote the question out and recorded your answers next to them.

Here's the complete cycle:

1. Why? Why do I eat?

2. When? When do I want to eat?

3. What? What do I want to eat?

4. How? How do I eat?

5. How Much? How much do I eat?

6. Where? Where do I invest my energy?

· Let's dive into this cycle and flesh out the questions that guide you at each step.

Why do I eat?

o Why do I think I eat?

o Am I aware of all the situations and emotions that trigger me to want to eat when I'm not hungry?

o Do I find myself eating even though I said I wouldn't? Why?

o Have I tried a lot of diets? What happened? How did they work for me long term? Why?

When do I eat?

o How often do I feel like eating? Why?

o How do I know if I'm hungry?

o Can I tell the difference between physical hunger and head hunger?

o How could I redirect my attention away from food until I'm hungry?

o What could I do to cope better with my emotional triggers for eating when I'm not hungry?

o When does "I want a brownie" really mean "I want a break"?

What do I eat?

o What do I eat on a typical day?

o Would an Awareness Journal help me recognize patterns?

o What types of foods do I feel like eating when I'm eating for emotional reasons? Why?

o Do I restrict myself from eating certain foods, then later give in and overeat those foods?

o Do I feel guilty when I eat?

o Am I afraid of losing control when I eat certain foods?

o What health issues do I need to be aware of when deciding what to eat?

o What could I eat that would help me feel better and become healthier?

o Are there any areas of my diet that I could improve right now?

o What specific change would I like to make at this time?

o What kind of foods could I keep on hand to eat when I'm hungry?

o How could I make the perfect food choice every time to satisfy both my body and mind?

o Is it possible to eat anything but not everything?

How do I eat?

o What do I eat on a typical day?

o Do I eat while I'm distracted?

o Do I genuinely eat as though I love food?

o Do I eat fast, barely tasting my food?

o Do I eat differently in private than I do in public?

o Could I write an article for a gourmet magazine about the last meal I ate?

How much should I eat?

o How do I feel when I'm finished eating?

o Do I like the way I feel?

o Do I feel compelled to clean my plate?

o If I'm not hungry when I start eating, how do I know when to stop?

o What situations or emotions trigger me to overeat?

o What could I do to address my triggers for overeating more effectively?

o What do I do after those times I overeat anyway?

Where do I invest the energy I consume?

o Am I physically active?

o Do I watch too much TV or spend too much free time in front of the computer?

o How do I feel about exercise?

o Do I exercise? What do I like to do?

o Do I use exercise to punish myself for eating or to earn the right to eat?

o What else do I do with my energy (i.e. play with my children; work on my hobbies; volunteer; travel; spend time with friends?

o Is there anything else I'd like to do that I'm not doing now?

o What are my goals for my relationships, my career, and my life?

o Do I practice regular and meaningful self-care to buffer myself from life stress?

o Does my life reflect wellness and wholeness in body, mind, heart, and spirit?

Asking yourself questions such as these can help you break any unhealthy eating cycles you have and replace them with a healthy mindful eating cycle.

Remember that Eating Mindfully is NOT about counting calories and worrying about what you eat. Still, instead, it's about building a positive and enjoyable relationship with food, leading to a happier and healthier you.

If this article has resonated with you and you feel you would like further support through Counselling or Coaching, please contact me; I would love to help you learn to eat mindfully. You will find the details How to get in touch with me in the top menu on my home page.

Thank you for visiting me here.

Moon Rose Mindfulness is a community of women courageously learning to create an independent, meaningful, and healthy lifestyle. If this post was helpful to you, I would love to hear from you.

Feel free to contact me if you need support or share any thoughts you may have.

Your Best Life is Yet to Come!

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