I understand that many of you may have some reservations at this point. Actually, I’d be surprised if you didn’t because this approach is so different to what we’ve been told! We’ve learnt that we need to ‘control’ ourselves around food but we don’t. We can learn to listen to our bodies and our feelings and, this is how to break free of unwanted behaviour around food.
With this in mind, I have found that people often ask common questions, so here are my answers!
Will it help me lose weight?
It might or it might not! For me, Mindful Eating is about taking the focus OFF WEIGHT LOSS because it’s that focus that skews our relationship with food in the first place. If you think about it, as babies we don’t over eat, our relationship with food gets distorted when we start trying to lose weight by controlling our food choices, counting calories or eating with no connection to what our body wants and needs.
Isn’t Mindful eating just giving up?
No! Years ago I thought there were only two ways of ‘managing’ food, either dieting or not dieting. If I wasn’t dieting, I was overeating. But Mindful eating is something different altogether. It is about giving up on dieting, but, that’s a good thing to give up! Dieting doesn’t do anyone any good long term. Research shows it doesn’t work for over 90 % of people and, dieting makes your life smaller. You spend your time obsessing over food choices, preparing low calorie meals and not saying yes to things because it might make you break your diet.
But I can’t accept my body as it is now!
I hear this a lot and this is fundamentally a choice. We are conditioned to expect our bodies to look a certain way, by all the images we are exposed to on a daily basis. If you look through a magazine, or watch a TV show, you could be forgiven for thinking there is only one body type in the world BUT there isn’t! When you become more aware of the messages you see around you, you will learn that there is more than one way to have a body. We are not all supposed to be the same shape or size. It’s ok to accept the bodies we were given and how our bodies will change over the years.
I won’t be able to stop eating!
You will! When you learn to trust yourself! I had this fear as well but in fact, I eat less now than I ever did before because I know what I want and am no longer compelled to overeat.
You may find that for a time you will eat the things you’ve not allowed yourself to have, but once you get the hang of understanding that food is always there, you won’t need to overeat it!
I need to lose weight first!
You don’t! Because that is diet thinking. Diet thinking will keep you stuck in the cycle you are in. Think about it. How has dieting helped you so far in your life? Has it worked for you and have you managed to keep the weight off? If not, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT. Diets aren’t supposed to work! That is how they make their money, by selling you foods you don’t need and plans you won’t be able to stick to.
I need to lose weight for my health.
This is another- hotly debated, I’ll admit, myth. We don’t know the true association between health and weight.
I do know that you can’t assume a person is healthy just by their weight as there are so many other factors at play. Weight could be an association with some diseases rather than a causal factor. Many studies have found that part of some larger person’s ill health is due to weight stigma or prejudice. The kind larger people experience when they go to the Doctors and are asked to lose weight when that has nothing to do with their condition. I’m sure you will have heard of diseases missed because symptoms were attributed to a person’s weight rather than being fully investigated.*
What has become more apparent in recent years is the undoubtable positive effect exercise has in people with larger body’s. So if a large person is active, this has a huge protective effect against ill health. Dieting doesn’t work in any case, so encouraging a ‘Health at every size’* approach is so much more holistic and effective in improving health measures such as reduced stress, reduced levels of depression, lower Blood pressure and lower blood glucose results.