By Jocelyn Weiss, PhD, MPH and Meg van Staveren, MPH, RD
It’s easy on occasion to eat too much, eat too quickly, eat for comfort, or choose junk food. But for increasing numbers of people, this behavior is the norm, not the exception. Every year millions of Americans vow to lose weight and get healthy but aren’t able to overcome the largest roadblock to these changes—ingrained eating habits. Most diets don’t address the roots of unhealthy behavior, and they also can damage self-worth as those trying to lose weight repeatedly cycle through success and relapse.
Ditch the diet. It is time for a new paradigm for eating and health. Dismantle your old patterns and embrace new tools for making healthy choices that foster your deep, internal motivation for nurturing your body and achieving a healthy weight. Incorporating principles of mindfulness into your daily eating habits has been show to result in healthier eating patterns. These mindfulness principles can be incorporated in a variety of ways.
Connect to your core values and vision of a healthy you. Changing habits and long-standing patterns is not easy. Having a clear picture of the health you want, and why you want it, serves as a powerful intrinsic motivator to leave behind your old patterns and embrace new ones.
Tune into your thoughts, stressors and emotions to help recognize when you are stuck in a reactive cycle that leads you to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.
Notice whether you are eating based on actual physical hunger and nutritional needs, or if you are making unhealthy choices based on the external triggers surrounding you (such as social eating, advertisements, workplace influences and others).
Slow down. Take time to pay attention and enjoy the experience of your food choices by noticing flavors, textures and aromas. In doing so, your body will more easily sense when it is both full and satisfied.
To delve deeper into ways mindfulness can transform your eating patterns and support your health and wellness goals, Duke Integrative Medicine offers Changing From Within. This 8-week course will help you learn to bring close attention to your mind, body, behaviors and patterns related to eating. You will explore the many variables that drive our habits—including stress, unhappiness, and even unconscious beliefs—and develop a road map for sustainable change.
The group support and personal mindfulness skills you will develop in this program can provide a pathway to achieve a healthy weight that can be maintained for a lifetime. Loaded with concrete meditation exercises, behavioral techniques, nutrition advice, and meal-planning charts, this course provides the tools to avoid cravings, stop emotional overeating, and figure out when you are full.
Lasting weight loss and healthy living begin in the mind. Are your ready to learn how to re-program your body, make healthy choices, lose weight, and keep it off for life? Click here to learn more about Changing From Within.
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