We can LEARN to eat in moderation!
Start by doing a body scan and noticing your sensations: What are you feeling? Hunger? Thirst? Craving chocolate? Next, notice your state of mind. Ask yourself, am I bored? Am I feeling stressed at work?
Chances are the answer might be the reason you start snacking as soon as you get home from work, or when the TV goes on. These may have nothing to do with being hungry.
If you were to dig a bit deeper, you might see a pattern to :
The times of the day you get hungry.
The types of foods you crave and the time of day when you crave it.
By noticing and naming your sensations and recognizing what you are feeling, you can use strategies for handling hunger and cravings.
Remember your goal is to never feel deprived. The feeling of withholding is what leads us into the cycle of deprivation and overeating.
But let us be realistic. Sometimes you might go for a walk instead of eating a pint of ice cream. Sometimes. But other times, the desire to eat treats will be too great to resist. That is normal and we all do this.
With that said, you only need to answer the following:
What can I do in that moment to alleviate that hunger?
What strategy can I put in place when I notice I am craving?
Here are strategies to help:
Continue to choose moderation.
You need to own that you are on the moderate path. The more you eat in that mid-range (make the choice to eat a small treat or eat something more nutritious), the less extreme those urges to overindulge will become. Giving yourself small treats during the week and avoiding deprivation will help you avoid overeating on the weekends.
Practice! And keep going.
Aim for satisfaction, not perfection.
Find healthier replacements for what you are craving. It might not give you the same amount of pleasure , but you just might feel satisfied without consuming an excessive amount of calories .
Suppose you’re craving an afternoon sweet, and Starbucks is nearby – how about a hot chocolate? .It might feel great for a while – until you finish it! At 590 calories, a Venti Starbucks White Hot Chocolate has more calories than some meals. The drink also has 15 g of saturated fats, or 75% of the recommended daily value.
Perhaps you can find something that will take the edge off, and be satisfying enough without feeling bad physically or mentally? An Americano with cream and sweetener or a latte might be all you need to satisfy that sweet craving.. You do not need to drink black coffee, and It is not “mocha or bust” !
You do not have to be perfect. In fact, choosing slight imperfections daily will provide you with long-term solutions.
By taking this mindful approach to your cravings, you have time to think through your choices. In this example, taking a moment to think about what you’re craving (something sweet) how you can get it (Starbucks is nearby) and what will satisfy the craving (Hot Chocolate), you can then consider something not as indulgent that you know will make you satisfied (Americano with cream and sweetener).
You can do these quick assessments and turnarounds every day.
Eat to 80% full.
This can be difficult, because we were brought up to eat everything on our plate. You might have been eating healthy all week — but here comes the weekend!
This has always been a problem for me – this is typically when I go out to dinner.
That means an appetizer, bread, wine, an entrée, and sides, and of course we can’t skip dessert! I work hard all week! I deserve it! It tastes so good – I do not want to MISS OUT.
I would eat beyond feeling full. I would feel sick afterward and regret eating so much. This would extend to the next day, having not slept well, and again on Monday when I would get on the scale. I started weighing myself on Wednesdays to avoid that Monday morning weigh-in, hoping my weight would go down in 2 days.
I used mindfulness in order to practice moderation. I started being more mindful DURING my meals. I will now ask myself , “Am I starting to feel a little full?”.
I PRACTICE ending my meals before I am full. I know I could eat more, but I CHOOSE not to. That is what I consider 80% full. At this point I might use a few different strategies like putting a napkin over my plate or taking my leftovers to go. At home I will fill one plate of food and not refill it .
You will learn to recognize when you are 80% full. It is the feeling that you are satisfied but you “could” eat more. Once you PRACTICE THE FEELING of 80% fullness, it becomes second-nature.
Mindfulness makes the entire eating experience more enjoyable. Mindfulness slows the decision process down. Mindfulness means that you can savor the taste of the food, enjoy the conversation with your friends, and admire the ceramic plate and the visual presentation of the food. It gives you the space to relax.
In summary, the goal is to not deprive yourself and to not give in completely to your cravings. It is moderation.
Be mindful of :
your physical sensations (hunger, cravings).
the fact that you have a CHOICE of how you manage things.
the STRATEGY that you CREATE in that moment.
Mindfulness and Moderation take practice, and all you need to see better results.