Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

Weight loss and good health made simple

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Your Brain and Weight Loss

You know your brain can help you lose weight, right?

“Am I really hungry?” This one simple question may help you overcome barriers, put aside years of yo-yo dieting, and reach your weight loss goals! Researchers have found that people who are mindful when they eat weigh less than those who eat without really enjoying their food. Studies also indicate that people who are overweight can lose weight simply by being more mindful at mealtime.

Don't go there.
One study found that a regular yoga practice could prevent weight gain and promote weight loss. But, yoga doesn’t burn many calories, leaving the researchers to wonder if there was something more to it. A follow-up study confirmed that it wasn’t so much about the practice of yoga itself that helped people shed unwanted pounds. Instead, the key is that the practice of yoga helps people become more aware of their bodies, more aware of their feelings, and more tuned into the present. All of this “mindfulness” helps people eat only when they are actually hungry and stop eating when they are full.

So, what does being “mindful” at the dinner table really mean for you? Here are some tips to help you achieve a higher level of meal-consciousness:
  • Go slow! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your belly and if you’re plowing through a meal, you won’t recognize that you are full until you are way past satisfied and working your way toward stuffed! Try putting your fork or spoon down between each bite.
  • Savor the flavor! The next time you eat something, smell your food before you take a bite. Enjoy the aromas, notice the spices. Then, take just one bite. Start to let the food dissolve a little in your mouth. Notice the textures and flavors. You will probably find something new you never noticed about your food, even if you’ve had it a hundred times!
  • Eat only when you’re hungry! Rate your level of hunger every time you think about eating something. On a scale of 1-10, with one being so hungry you are feeling light-headed and ten being so stuffed you feel like you’ve just had Thanksgiving dinner, gauge how you feel before, during, and after every meal. The goal is to eat when you get to about a 3 on your scale (you feel a little uncomfortable or your stomach is starting to growl). Stop eating when you reach about a 5 or 6 on your scale (comfortable and maybe you could eat a little more or you’re just perfectly satisfied). By staying in the mid-range of the scale, you will avoid the “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” feeling and subsequent over-indulgent meal!
  • Get your yoga on! Studies have shown that people who practice yoga gain less weight than those who don’t. This is due to some of the take-home messages associated with a regular yoga practice. These include self-kindness, being non-judgmental, and being present in the moment. Yoga also helps people learn how to stay calm and manage challenges, like those that may be a part of your weight loss journey.
We KNOW this doesn't make you hungry!
So, the next time you sit down to eat, take a moment and pause. Enjoy your food in a way maybe you haven't before. You might find some new foods you enjoy. Plus, you might discover some things you like about yourself along the way!