The Spiritual Path to Slimming Down
Starting a diet? The surge of motivation at the start can be glorious, giving you the steam to work out and spurn carbs with enthusiasm. But how to keep up the regimen? When we've grown weary of strict diet rules, how do we avoid falling back into our Dorito-chomping ways?
The answer may have less to do with what we eat and more to do with our emotional connection to food. These authors suggest that being mindful about our eating habits—learning to tune in to our bodies' needs and recognize the situations and feelings that cause us to eat too much or too little—is a sustainable path to healthier living.
Eat with full awareness
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh brings his expertise in mindfulness to bear in "Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life." In collaboration with Harvard nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung, Hanh fuses dietary science with meditation practice to create a program for eating with full awareness. Employing breathing tactics and "bare attention" in the context of eating, he argues, can help us to consume less and actually appreciate what we eat.
Think of food in a positive light
Obsessive concerns about weight and diet have distorted our thinking about food for the worse, says Susan Albers, Psy.D., in "Eating Mindfully." The key to eating healthily, she argues, is learning to appreciate food and listening attentively to the needs of our bodies. She points out that ignoring our natural need for nourishment leads to "mindless eating" habits, such as snacking when bored or going hungry to cut calories. Her book includes 50 tips for undoing these patterns and become more conscious about food.
Listen to your body
According to nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the reason most diets don't work is because they impose arbitrary rules and regulations instead of teaching people to establish unique connections with their bodies. In "Intuitive Eating," the authors show readers how to appreciate sensations of hunger and fullness, while keeping emotions like stress or sadness separate from eating. They lay out ten core steps to intuitive eating and three "eating personalities" to steer clear of.
When we begin the work of separating emotions from eating, it can be challenging to find new outlets for the stresses and worries we habitually alleviate with food. Albers' "50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food" is the ideal companion guide to have on hand during this transition. From mindfulness meditation techniques to journaling and self-pampering, the book will help you create new habits to replace overconsumption.
As attuned to our bodies and personal eating rhythms as we may be, there will always be external factors tempting us to consume more, and with greater frequency, than we need to. In "Mindless Eating," nutrition expert Brian Wansink spotlights the objects, places and situations that cause us overeat unthinkingly. We tend to eat far more when dining out with friends, for instance, than when eating at home, while seemingly minor details such as large dinner plates, certain room colors and even the type of music playing in a restaurant can distort our appetites. Wansink trains readers to observe these unseen influences and maintain undistracted awareness of our bodies' needs.