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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thoughtful Eating is Healthy Eating

Here are a couple of ideas for how to help yourself with your relationship to food

Key to weight loss? Think about it

Arthur Foulkes, The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Kristeller, clinical psychologist and senior research scientist at Indiana State University, researches and teaches what is called mindfulness eating -- an approach to food that can help people lose and keep off weight without a radical diet or dramatic changes in the foods they eat.
Kristeller helps clients ... understand how to eat smarter and healthier.

The ISU professor is featured in the second part of a four-part Home Box Office series, "The Weight of the Nation," a look at the nation's obesity problem. The HBO documentary featuring Kristeller and Elissa Epel, one of the chief investigators in the study at the University of California in San Francisco, is available online at
Being "mindful" about eating, Kristeller said, is simply stopping and deliberately thinking about what you are going to eat and why. It's checking with your body's signals, such as feeling hungry or feeling full. It's also making conscious decisions about what, when and how much to eat.
"A lot of eating patterns are automatic," Kristeller said in a recent interview at the ISU Psychology Clinic. "We actually make hundreds of decisions a day about eating."

Mindful eating also focuses on the quality of food over quantity. In American culture, "more is better," seems to determine our eating habits. Kristeller's approach would have us put quality first.
Focusing on quantity has helped cause "a massive obesity problem" in the United States, Kristeller said. Mindful eating focuses on appreciating food, savoring it and not just wolfing it down.
Hear your body's signals---
Mindful eating involves listening to your body's signals.
Often we eat even after we have consumed all the calories our bodies require, Kristeller said. Mindful eating allows us to slow down and recognize when we've had all we need. Slowing down and savoring food also allows us to maximize the pleasure we get from food.

"If you love French fries, we don't tell you to stop eating French fries," Kristeller said. "Just eat fewer" and enjoy them more.
"You might be surprised that if you really focused on savoring even four or five French fries, rather than gobbling down 20 or 30, you'd enjoy them and realize that this was possibly enough," she said.
Mindful eating is also about budgeting how many calories you consume, but primarily it is about "creating a healthy relationship with eating and food," Kristeller said.
The mindful approach to eating spills over into other areas of a person's life...
And, unlike traditional forms of dieting, the mindful approach to eating does not force someone to give up favorite foods. Nor does it impose other habits that are so out of the ordinary that any weight loss is likely to be only temporary. Mindful eating involves learning to tune in on natural hunger and fullness cues -- knowing when you've eaten enough.
"That's the great thing about the skills [involved in mindful eating]," Linda said. "It's not something that you lose just because you had a bad moment or bad day."
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or"

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Another recent notion put forth is the idea (fact?) that there are significant differences in how acute people's taste buds are.  So, those who have a very sensitive taster are likely to be more easily satisfied and to eat less.  Those with less sharp taste buds tend to keep eating once they begin, trying to get a sense of satisfaction.  It seems unfair but this is something that would be inborn.  If you can figure this out about yourself and you tend to be more numb to flavors, possibly the mindfulness approach would help you enjoy food more by paying more attention to what you do eat.

Applying mindfulness to eating is where mental health and physical health come together.
BTW, just to let you know, I am trying to install the mindful eating habit in myself and it isn't instant nor easy.  Just like any new behavior, it takes purposeful doing of it for awhile before it will become a habit.  But, I think this one is a worthwhile effort.  

If you try this method, please tell us how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again Paula for this wonderful post. Maybe I ave this what you call "less sharp taste bud" because I keep on eating and eating as if I was not satisfied. Until I feel that I have eaten a lot.