Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lose Weight Without Even Trying? The Mindful Eating Experiment

Last week, I reinstituted a habit that I practiced many years ago.  What sparked me to try this again was inspiration from a tv show.  On the show was this woman who has a toned, slim figure.  Her tummy is flat as a board even though she eats whatever she wants and doesn't work out.

 At first, I assumed that her age, genetics, and metabolism were the only factors in creating her envious figure.  But, after studying her behavior, I realized that she had a habit that was probably a huge contributor to her lean figure.

This reality show offered behind the scenes footage of the contestants as they connected in the house they shared.  As the contestants sat down one morning to enjoy breakfast, I watched unedited footage of her eating and noticed that with each bite, she chewed well over 20 times before swallowing (I actually counted).  On another occasion, while sharing a sandwich with a housemate, she apologizes saying "sorry [for taking so long], I eat my food really slowly."

Eureka!

Instantly, I flashed back tp the time when I purposefully chewed each bite 20-30 times.  So many things changed once I instituted that habit.  I'll go into the details later, but first, let me share my current eating habits.

I'm pretty short [5ft tall] so technically, I shouldn't eat a lot. But I do.  I've learned that the only way to eat a lot of food is to eat fast!  There's a short time window between when I take my first bite and when the feeling of being full set in.  I take full advantage of the time by shoveling in as much food as possible before it's too late.

I know full well that this habit is very unhealthy & unnatural.  Worst of all, it's contributing to my pot belly and other issues.

So I decided to reinstitute the practice of conscious eating.  Basically, I would try to chew my food slowly and thoroughly.  If possible, I'd put my fork down between bites (something I rarely ever do).   Ideally, one should chew until their food is liquefied but I absolutely loathe the feel of swallowing my food once it's liquefied so I'll stop chewing just before that point.  Maybe I'll get to that place one day.....but not yet.

That was a week and a half ago.  Since then I've noticed huge differences as a result of my new actions.

Let's discuss.

I pulled into a Chic Fil A drive through and ordered a three count chicken strips and medium fries (as I've done countless times before).  This time, I opted to maintain my promise to increase the number of times I chewed each bite.  Panic struck as I realized the feeling of being full begin to set in.  "There were still fries left in my bag! What do I do?"  I decided to go against nature and shove the remainder of the fries into my mouth despite my body telling me that I had enough.  When I was done, I was uncomfortably full and made a mental note to order a smaller size fry the next time around.

A week later, I go to Chic Fil A again.  This time I request a 3 count strip & small fry.  As I pull away, I notice that they gave me a medium fry instead.  Normally, I'd be elated, but this time I'm kinda bummed, knowing that I wouldn't be able to eat them all.  I chew slowly, savoring every bite.  Once I decided to stop eating, I look in my bag and find multiple fries staring back at me.  This never happens.  I decide to keep the fries until later until I got hungry again.

Conscious eating has put me back in tuned with my body.  In the past, I loved to eat until I was stuffed, now, I can't stand it. It's super uncomfortable.  Now I eat until I'm slightly full.  Within a week and a half, I've already experienced my stomach shrinking.  My dinner portion sizes are much smaller than in the past and I'm perfectly ok with that.

Another obvious benefit of my new chewing practice is improved digestion.  They say that digestion begins in the mouth.  Our saliva contains enzymes that start breaking down our food.  The more we chew the less of a burden we place on our digestive system.  Not sure if you're aware, but digesting food requires a lot of energy.  Imagine how much more it requires to digest large amounts of unproperly chewed food.  Ever since instituting this conscious eating process, I've felt a renewed sense of energy.  I've also experienced less bloating which is always a good thing.

I have no doubt that this new habit will lead to a flatter tummy and loss of excess pounds.  When I was really dedicated to chewing until my food was liquid (years ago), my stomach really shrunk.  Not only did my tummy flatter but it took barely any food to get me full.  This happened as a natural progression, no effort needed.  Which leads me to believe that I currently consume way more calories than my body actually wants or needs.  All I did was listen to my body's signals.  When I felt satiated, I stopped eating.  I read online that a study of slow-chewers found that they consumed around 100 calories less per meal than their counterparts.  That could really add up!  Think about those people who lose weight effortlessly simply by giving up soda (150 calories per can).  Mindful eating could provide similar benefits.

I'm experiencing too many benefits to turn back to my old way of eating.  I realized that, in the past, I ate with a scarcity mindset. I ate as if someone was going to take the plate away from me if I didn't finish fast enough. Other times, I ate in front of a screen without having truly experienced my food. Eating in front of a screen is a sure fire way to over consume too many calories. According to a small  study, when we eat in front of a screen, we have a fuzzier recollection of our meal thereby causing to us feel less satisfied and more likely to snack later.  The fewer distractions you have while you eat, the less you are likely to consume.

Next on the agenda is taking things to the next level by taking smaller bites.  This hopefully will help break down my food even faster.  If you are a reckless eater, like I was, I invite you to try chewing your food slowly.  It changes everything.






  1. I used to practice mindful eating when I worked with clients with bulimia. It really is a useful method to watch what we eat and how we eat it. great reminder.
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  2. I know I definitely give myself generous portions, so I am definitely going to try this. I tend to eat when I am bored so just asking myself "Do you want an apple?" every time I get up to grab a chocolate bar or a sandwich usually makes me realise that I am not actually hungry, so I sit back down. Great post x

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

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  3. I need to do this! Though I typically eat a little slower than others, I know that I do not always chew as I should. Thanks for the article. Very helpful.

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  4. Implementing this now! I hope it'll help me lose weight.

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