Continuing the discussion with Dr. Villanueva (Dr. V.), from Episode 1, we begin to look at the idea of mindful eating.
Check the podcast series here: Podcast
The Power Of Your Brain
Our brains control our cravings, our desires, our wants, and our needs in everything we do including what we put into our bodies. Through research into these cravings, neuroscientists have discovered that mindful eating could be the key to losing weight permanently. Many practitioners who work with overweight or obese patients stress this idea of mindful and conscious eating. This includes Dr. V., who works with patients who are not only overweight but who typically have weight-related illnesses. For many, instead of eating to be healthy and happy, we are eating to die. A rather dramatic statement but our food is our medicine. If we can make the shift from eating to mindful eating, we can then eat to sustain vitality and heal our illnesses.
Awareness and Eating Behaviours
As anyone on a diet can attest, most dieters are extremely aware of what we put into our bodies, especially if it’s something that’s “forbidden” like chocolate or French fries. But are we aware of the right aspects of what we put into our bodies? Dr. V. describes mindful eating as more than just knowing what you eat. It’s knowing the micronutrients of what you put into your body. It’s knowing how to put food into your body. It’s knowing at what intervals to put food into your body. And, it’s being aware of how much water you drink.
The Campfire Analogy
Think of our metabolism, how our bodies burn calories, like a campfire. When making a campfire we start with small twigs or lightweight items that burn easily. As the fire gets going we can add heavier food to the fire, bigger pieces of wood. Once the fire is burning hot and consistent, we can throw a dense oak log on. However, if we don’t wait for the fire to burn big and hot, and we simply put that dense oak log on at the start, we don’t build the fire, we smother it. Dr. V. says our body is like the fire. We have to put the right foods in at the right intervals to make our metabolism burn hot. If we want our bodies regulate or lose fat, we want them to burn hot and hotter, not get smothered. Smothering our fire can lead to a slow metabolic rate that is not only unhealthy but also unsafe.
What Is The Proper Food?
So, what is the proper food? There are so many diets out there with so many different approaches to eating. Some diets exclude fat but not carbs. Some diets exclude carbs but not fat. Some diets exclude animal products. Some diets promote animal products. How do we figure out what’s helpful and what’s harmful? Dr. V. believes that it’s bio-individualized. Just like any medicine, we can’t expect one type of treatment, or in this case eating lifestyle, to work for everybody. However, there is some common ground, foundational rules, which apply to the human body in general. We all need to put micronutrients into our bodies for it to run well. Micronutrients are foundational nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and water. These are the foundational blocks that all bodies run on. No matter what lifestyle plan you chose, these micronutrients are essential. Just like a car, if we don’t put the right gas in, it won’t run. When you eat lots of empty calories, calories with no nutrients, your body won’t run properly, and you’ll feel sluggish, tired, and foggy. When you eat the right micronutrients, nutrients you can get in vegetables and fruits, for example, you’ll have sustained energy and mental clarity.
Don´t Skip Meals!
Now that we know what to put in our bodies, let’s take a look a when and how to put nutrients in our bodies. Mindful eating is awareness. Being aware of when you eat is part of that. Many of us skip meals. We go too long without food. Compounded on this, we often don’t drink enough water. In the beginning of a weight-loss lifestyle journey, Dr. V. suggests that we should be aware of when we’re hungry but that until we learn to eat mindfully it’s good to be on a structured eating schedule. She often begins her clients on a plan that includes eating 5-times daily. These are not big meals, these are 5 times throughout the day you’re putting the right foods, foods that will enhance the fire, into your body.
For classic yo-yo dieters, those of us who have been taught from an early age that diet equals restriction and starvation, this can be difficult. But once we learn to eat mindfully, we can transition into eating when hungry. When this happens, we’re eating the right foods, burning our metabolism, and eating at appropriate intervals We also learn to carry appropriate nutrient filled snacks that stoke the fire does not smother it.
Don´t Be Afraid To Eat!
Beginning the process of changing your diet and lifestyle can be overwhelming but if you chose the right plan for your bio-individual needs and mindfully eat at defined intervals then you’ve made an excellent first step. Integrating grains, vegetables, and legumes, adding those micronutrients into our regime, can break the weight gain cycle. Retrain habits. Don’t be afraid to eat. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and losing weight doesn’t mean starving yourself. You can enjoy your food. Learn about the great and delicious natural food that helps your body. Making these basic changes will help to yield long-term results. Don’t be afraid to change your lifestyle for the better!
Editor: Andrea Holloway
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