It’s not just what you eat but how and why you eat
Try the habit of Mindful Eating with Dietitian Sinead Cahillane
In today’s busy world, we all look to find quick solutions and easy answers. Dr Google, influencers, and fad diets often portray an attractive glimmer of hope for achieving weight loss quickly. Unfortunately, when it comes to our nutrition and our health, there isn’t a quick fix! Fad diets and detox diets are not the answer – although they may lead to some initial weight loss – in the long run, they are not sustainable or enjoyable and certainly not healthy for our body or our minds. The key to achieving and maintaining good nutritional health is by developing healthy sustainable habits that are right for us individually.
We all like things to be simple, including our diets – it’s comforting and easier to group foods in our minds as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. As a dietitian, I am most commonly asked – ‘is this food good?’ or ‘is that food bad for you?’ Of course, my answer to this is always – ‘that depends how much of it you are eating and how often’. This is not the answer people like to hear as it’s not the easy or simple solution. Society is very focused on what we should and shouldn’t eat, but what we need to pay much more attention to is – how we eat. Our eating habits, attitudes and relationships towards food are as important as what we are eating.
We need to move away from the mindset of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods and instead embrace Mindful Eating. Mindful eating is being consciously aware of our eating habits.
A lot of eating in today’s society is done mindlessly e.g. eating on the go, eating while watching TV, eating due to emotional triggers such as stress or boredom. Eating mindlessly causes us to lose touch with our feelings of hunger and fullness (satiety).
Following fad diets or grouping foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is almost taking the lazy way out. It is removing the responsibility from ourselves of the need to think about what we are eating when we are eating and why we are eating. The best way to improve our nutritional health is by embracing responsibility and accountability to ourselves for our own eating habits and learning to practice mindful eating.
As with all habits, we need to want to change them!
People often talk about wanting to lose weight – the real question to ask yourself is: are you prepared to change your lifestyle and eating habits? Are you ready to be honest with yourself about your eating in order to embrace and practise mindful eating?
Identifying the right time for YOU to work on changing your habits is the first step to success. Changing habits is no easy undertaking – this requires you to be honest with yourself and you need to be ready to change. The key to achieving sustainable results is to set the right goals at the right times for you individually. As with many therapies, a Registered Dietitian focuses on coaching you to set the right goals at a pace that is right for you and your desired aim. Dietitians are trained in behaviour-change to help guide you on how to eat mindfully and on changing habits and behaviours gradually. Nutrition counselling is commonly used by dietitians to help clients to explore and focus on the why and how they eat, as well as the what.
Nutrition counselling with a dietitian does not promise a quick fix or immediate results. However, in the long run, this approach is a worthwhile investment of your time, effort and money in order to really address and work on the root of your eating behaviours and form good life long-lasting dietary habits and sustainable results. After all, as with most worthwhile things, it takes time, practice, patience and persistence.
Sinead is a Registered Specialist Dietitian and she conducts clinical consultations for:
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