Eating for Well-Being Instead of Weight Loss
Diets often fail because they are too restrictive and detrimental to health. But, when focused on losing weight instead of getting healthy, these types of diets are usually the go to. A restrictive diet may result in weight lose initially, but it becomes extremely difficult to maintain this way of eating long-term, and many eventually give-up, reverting to their usual way of eating.
It’s Time to Change the Way We Think And Eat!
Eating needs to be a flexible thing that’s based on nutrition, satiation, hunger (appetite is hugely psychological by the way), and enjoyment, rather than being based entirely on weight loss.
Here are 5 things to consider when making efforts to change your eating style and improve your overall mental health.
1. Mood Follows Food
When thinking about your mood, notice any fluctuations that are present. It’s important to know that your eating style directly affects your mental health. “Where there is mental illness, there is poor diet [and] a long history of digestive problems” (Dr. Leslie Korn). Research has proven that poor nutrition contributes to and worsens mental health problems, and optimal nutrition (where there is an emphasis on nutrient density in meals) prevents and treats mental health problems.
2. Get Off the SAD Diet
The standard American diet (SAD) leads to feeling sad because it consists of overly processed foods that are loaded with refined sugars, chemicals, synthetic preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, and artificial flavors and colorings that are known to negatively affect mood. The SAD leads to chronic inflammatory states that contribute to many health conditions, and it creates imbalances in brain functions that are responsible for mood regulation. Mentioned here are only a few problems with the SAD. It’s very important to read the labels on your food packaging and know the ingredients contained in the food you’re feeding yourself and your family, especially your little ones. Here is a link to a video I found to be helpful in learning about harmful ingredients in our food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x31_u9cpnZQ&list=WL&index=1
3. Reduce or Eliminate Refined Sugar; Try Sugar Alternatives Instead
Sugar removes nutrients from the body, is toxic, and causes inflammation. Inflammation exacerbates pain in the body and is an underlying cause for many health conditions. Additionally, without reducing (and for some, eliminating) how much sugar you take in, being able to balance your mood naturally will continue to be unlikely. Two sugar alternative options to consider are
- Stevia- plant based, and
- Xylitol- does not raise blood glucose levels or negatively affect dental health.
Natural sugar from fruit is almost always better than the processed option if you must have something sweet. If you’re someone who is sensitive to sugar altogether, berries are an excellent option.
4. Develop A New Mindset around weight loss
Redirect your focus. Give yourself more grace. Be kind as you gently remind yourself that it takes time to lose weight (sometimes longer than you had planned or imagined it would take). Changing your focus can help alleviate the stress that is often involved with the process of losing weight. Instead of telling yourself “I want to lose weight,” start telling yourself, “I want to be healthy” or “it’s not about how I look, it’s about being healthier.” In this way, your mind is focused on making the healthiest food and lifestyle choices rather than merely making the goal to see the number on a scale being reduced when you “weigh in” as a diet plan may prescribe.
5. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating stems from the centuries-old practice of mindfulness, or mindful meditation. This practice involves giving your FULL attention to the present moment.
Mindful eating discourages the act of “judging” your eating patterns and instead encourages you to make food choices that will be simultaneously satisfying and nourishing to your body. The idea is that once we really become FULLY aware of our eating habits and can make the connection between them and how we look and feel, we can take the necessary steps to change what needs to be changed.
Tips for Getting Started with Mindful Eating
If you’ve been struggling with your weight and would like to completely shift how you think about food, here are some ways to get started with a mindful eating practice:
- Appreciate the food – Honor where your food came from and how it got onto your plate.
- Be Sensible – Use all your senses to really smell, taste, see and recognize the textures of your food. Be in the moment with your food.
- Savor and Chew Thoroughly – When you are in the present moment, fully mindful of the taste and deliciousness of the food, and when you are certain to chew thoroughly, you can’t help but slow way down. This helps not to overeat.
These are only a few of the principles behind mindful eating. When you change how you think about food, any negative thoughts and emotions you have about food and weight loss will be replaced with awareness and self-control. Low impact exercise, like walking, is also another way to simultaneously regulate your mood and lose weight as it has been proven to release “the happy hormones” in your brain and help with weight loss.
If you’re interested in having a therapist who focuses on your mental health wellness from a comprehensive perspective; taking into consideration your mind, body, and spirit, please reach out to me. Call, text, or email me today to get started.
A Special Report by Dr. Leslie Korn- Change your Mood with Food