Health: Take weight lightly

By Lani Lopez

Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

If weight has you worried, then lighten up.

Give up diets, give up guilt and give up the heavy heart and negative thinking. Taking a light-hearted approach to weight-loss brings the best and, most importantly, delivers the longest lasting results.

Research is increasingly demonstrating that a simple natural approach to weight loss has two simple requirements.

An understanding of healthy body-size and awareness of your appetite and eating.

Health at every size
I have long been a critic of BMI as a body measure. It is an inaccurate tool, incorrectly categorising many athletes and healthy body types as unhealthy.

Take the "Health at Every Size" (HAES) approach. HAES starts with acceptance of your body as it is, whatever your size and shape, you are fine as you are. Then you take care of it with nutrition and activity.

Think about creating health, not losing weight. There is no place for guilt, self-loathing or shame, it is all about about self-care and self-love. From that comes the self-esteem that makes self-control possible.

Think before you bite
Time to discover 'mindful eating'. To understand this let's look at eating mindlessly. What, when and how much we eat has no connection to our body's needs and our health. Mindless eating is bingeing or eating foods that leave us feeling over-full, sick from grease, in a sugar crash, guilty or just plain 'blah.'

Disconnection characterises mindless eating and reconnecting is the key to mindful eating. Connect with your appetite, knowing your hunger cycle helps to avoid cravings. Understanding the foods that leave you feeling 'blah' helps choose those foods that truly satisfy and energise. Over-eating comes from missing signals we are full.

This disconnection is normal, we eat mindlessly. World renowned researcher Brian Wansink, of Cornell University Food and Brand Laboratory, shows that most of the time our food choices are unconscious.

People estimated to Wansik that they made an average of 14.4 food choices a day. In reality, they made over 200. Wansik showed too that food choices hinge on things we don't consider; who we eat with, what and how much we eat, if we sit to eat, are watching television and the shape and size of plates or cups.

This is the power of mindful eating, getting control of our food choices for our own good. Mindfulness is simply paying attention, both to inner cues (thoughts, emotions and sensations) and to our environment (sights, scents, sounds, textures and tastes). For every meal be aware of the sensations of eating- tasting, smelling and enjoying the food as you eat it. Every lick, bite, chew and swallow.

This process soon cues your appetite into food that really is as good for you as it tastes, fresh and healthy foods. No more diets and because you are consciously choosing foods you eat there is no more guilt.

Lani Lopez BHSc Adv. Dip. Nat. is a Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist. She introduced her guide to mindful weight-loss at The Healthy Living Show as one of our Element Game Changers.

Sit to eat and be focused entirely on eating for the whole meal.

Take breaks between mouthfuls, between servings and between courses. This helps you to notice the food filling you up.

Serve food on small crockery, the smaller your plate, bowl and cup, the more easily satisfied your appetite will be with less food.

Same goes for cutlery, choose small forks and spoons and chopsticks. These are excellent to ease appetite.

Think before you bite. Consider everything you eat, deep-fried food smells good, and you may think 'That would taste good!' But if you pause, you remember what you feel like after you eat and it no longer looks so tasty.

Sniff and walk. If a fatty tempting scent attracts you, keep walking. The body responds to smells rapidly and moves on just as quickly.

Shop for healthy food and keep healthy snacks on hand.

Do not eat on the move. Ever.

Accept and respect diversity of body shapes and sizes.
Health and well-being are multidimensional; physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional and intellectual.
Promote all aspects of health and wellbeing for people of all sizes.
Promote eating balancing individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite and pleasure.
Promote individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, over exercise focused on weight loss.

See for more information.

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