How long does it take?

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

People ask me “How long does it take to lose weight with mindful eating?” The question suggests using mindful eating as if it were another diet. Inherent in this logic is a misunderstanding of the crucial aspect of mindful eating—mindfulness!

What is mindfulness? I often use awareness as another word for mindfulness. In mindful eating, each bite of food is eaten with mindful attention. I explain that the awareness used for mindful eating is focused to the moment that one is eating a bite of food and that this awareness continues moment-to-moment and bite-to-bite throughout the meal.

Not only do we pay attention to eating our bites of food, but we also attend to how our body feels before, during and after we eat each bite of food. It is through practicing mindfulness while eating that we learn to eat when we are hungry, stop when we are full, and eat food we really enjoy and love.

You might ask, “Why doesn’t this work while eating the permitted foods on my diet?” The short answer is that you would have even more difficulty staying on your diet. Here’s why.

When you are on a diet, you are only eating the prescribed diet foods. When you do this, your mind goes on “diet food autopilot.” You are forced to ignore what you really would enjoy eating. You are also forced to ignore wholesome information from your body—information like “Am I Hungry?”, “How Hungry?”, “What would feel good to eat?”, “Am I Full?”, etc.—that help you regulate what you eat and how much you eat.

Finally, when on a diet, you can only ignore your body’s mental and physical cues for so long. Eventually you will return with gusto to overeating in your usual manner, yet again with total oblivion to your body’s mental and physical cues to help you.

So—how long does it take? It takes time to learn weight management with mindful eating but, on the other hand, it doesn’t have the mindless oblivion of the “yo-yo” diet. Just think. If mindful attention when eating removes you from the autopilot of mindless eating, then over time you will have a new healthy eating habit that becomes second nature to you. This empowers you to enjoy what you really want to eat when you are hungry and to stop when you are full.

The next eight-session mindful eating group (where you practice eating real food mindfully) begins June 7th at 975 Commerce Dr. in Perrysburg. Email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com or call 419-494-7699 for further information or to schedule an appointment with The Mindful Eating Coach.