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Lilian Cheung, D.Sc., R.D.

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7 Steps to Healthy Weight Loss, Without Dieting

Posted: 09/25/2012 8:11 am

Misinformation about weight loss abounds, and anyone who's tried to diet knows it. We begin strict diets with the best of intentions, but they ultimately result in feelings of failure as we boomerang back to our original weight, or -- even worse -- gain more. This lifestyle is unsustainable, unnerving and, frankly, unfulfilling. We blame ourselves, saying, "If only I had more willpower," when the reality for most people is that crash-course diets don't work.

And they don't have to. It is possible to attain a healthy weight and have a more satisfying life at the same time by simply paying attention to what and how we eat. People like Mondo Samu, who's lost over 100 pounds through mindful eating and mindful living, are a good example.

When practiced regularly, mindful eating enhances every aspect of our daily existence, and is therefore self-perpetuating. Instead of a diet, which gets harder to adhere to once the initial excitement wears, mindfulness becomes more rewarding as we practice and notice that we're not only loosing weight, but also gaining energy, emotional stability, compassion, gratitude and joy. The best part: We get to enjoy our food more -- it actually tastes better.

Try these seven mindful eating practices for one week, and let me know how it goes. My guess: You will be pleasantly surprised and ready for more.

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  • 1. Honor The Food

    We take food for granted in a land of abundance. We go to a vending machine and it simply comes out. We don't remember where our food is coming from. As you eat, contemplate where the food you're enjoying originated as well as who and what brought it to you: the sun, the rain, farmers, drivers, grocery store clerks. You may begin to feel deep gratitude.

  • 2. Engage All Your Senses

    Notice the beauty of your food. Breathe in its aroma. Explore with touch and texture. Notice the sounds your food makes -- when you're preparing it... when you're eating it... Consider what's in your mind when you look at your food.

  • 3. Be Mindful Of Portion Sizes

    Do not take too much. Start with a modest amount, choosing a dinner plate that's no larger than nine inches. <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/large-plates.html" target="_hplink">Research shows</a> the larger the plate, the more we eat.

  • 4. Chew

    Chewing helps us digest our food. The physical process and the enzymes in our saliva break it down in to digestible pieces. Taste comes from having our food in the mouth cavity -- the space that surrounds our tongue. Once we swallow it, we no longer taste it. Chew thoroughly to enjoy.

  • 5. Eat Slowly

    This allows us to enjoy the food and taste it better, and we eat less as a result -- as <a href="http://www.savorthebook.com/blog/lilian/2012/08/19/slow-down-speed-eater" target="_hplink">research shows</a>.

  • 6. Don't Skip Meals

    This can backfire. By the time you come home from work and start dinner, you're most likely very hungry and tired. You eat much more in one sitting than you would have in multiple meals, spread throughout the day. Make sure to have an energy-sustaining breakfast with whole grains and healthy proteins such as yogurt, nuts, beans or an egg and whole fruits.

  • 7. Eat A Plant-Based Diet

    Research shows that eating red meat increases our risk of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2113986/Red-meat-early-death-study-Eating-regularly-increases-risk-death-heart-disease.html" target="_hplink">heart disease</a>, <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2011-releases/red-meat-type-2-diabetes.html" target="_hplink">diabetes</a> and <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Red-meat-and-colon-cancer.shtml" target="_hplink">colon cancer</a>. A <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/?__utma=1.149297127.1347320506.1347320506.1347320506.1&__utmb=1.3.10.1347320506&__utmc=1&__utmx=-&__utmz=1.1347320506.1.1.utmcsr=hsph.harvard.edu|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/nutritionsource/&__utmv=-&__utmk=133066766" target="_hplink">recent study</a> by Harvard School of Public Health also found that red and processed meats may contribute to weight gain.

Curious about mindful eating and searching for more guidance? Join the Savor community website or Facebook page. Here you'll find nutrition information, guided mindful eating practices and success stories of other people seeking healthy weight loss, peace and happiness.

For more by Lilian Cheung, D.Sc., R.D., click here.

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