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Why We Eat for the Wrong Reasons and What to Do

By Sandy Schroeder

We all know carrots and celery work better than burgers and fries to keep us slim, but figuring out how to naturally choose the best foods may require a little mind bending.

HarvardHealth’s Julie Corliss, MD, suggests using the practice of mindfulness to change how and why we eat.

Spot Emotional Eating

Practicing mindfulness may help you spot emotional eating. Many of us eat to ease anxiety, irritation, or sadness, beyond satisfying natural hunger. Mindless eating happens when we go on auto pilot without really thinking about how we feel physically or emotionally.

Identify Addictive Behavior

Practicing mindfulness can help you identify this auto pilot behavior, which resembles many types of addiction, according to Harvard’s Dr. Siegel. He said, “Most human behaviors are based on conditioned patterns of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Eating a piece of chocolate cake can be a good short-term consequence. Gaining weight can be the bad long-term consequence."

Learn to Ride Out Cravings

You may always be extremely hungry at the end of the day. When the urge to order pizza comes up, take a short walk or talk with a friend. The craving may subside. Later you can choose chicken salad, black bean tacos or a white bean chili casserole. Stock your fridge with healthy alternatives.

Accept Yourself and Learn to Cope

No one is perfect, and giving up favorite foods is actually hard to do. Acknowledge it’s not easy and forgive yourself when you slip. Instead of focusing on the slip, move on with a healthy choice.

Some doctors suggest practicing a technique called defusion in which you distance yourself from guilty thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Realize what you are doing is difficult and give yourself credit for making better choices. One good day can build on more when you let go of the negative feelings.

Meditate without Judgment

The strategy of mindfulness meditation is to accept your emotions, thoughts and eating environment without judgment. I often do mindfulness meditation on my patio, letting thoughts about the day go sailing through, both good and bad, unjudged. Later my mind is clearer and I feel more relaxed. This practice could be used to think about what you eat, and why or when you ate, without judging it as good or bad. Later, you may feel more relaxed and likely to make healthy choices.

If mindfulness meditation interests you as a way to eat healthier and lose weight, you might find a local teacher to help you practice it. Mindfulness has been embraced by the military, industry and schools. If it sounds good to you, make it your own personal tool for losing weight, too.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, N.C.

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