When it comes to losing weight, there isn't an easy pill to take to make it happen. There has to be a substantial habit change to experience sustained, long-term weight loss. Cutting back on sugar, for example, is a way to start committing to losing weight for good, but it can seem hard to know where to even start—until now. To crush sugar cravings, there's one simple way that will help you in cutting back on sugar for good: eating more mindfully.
Learning how to mindfully eat your food will help you cut back on sugar and help you recognize your body's cravings more easily. Mindful eating means taking the time to really enjoy your food and recognize and acknowledge what you're eating. It's about listening to your body and eating more slowly—as opposed to mindlessly eating in front of the TV or at your desk at work. When you become more aware of what and how you're eating, you recognize sugar cravings and patterns so you can make smarter food choices. In Michele Promaulayko's book Sugar Free 3, she shares some simple points on how you can start mindfully eating and crush those sugar cravings.
When it comes to cutting back on sugar, here are a few tips to consider.
How to start eating more mindfully
Excerpt from Sugar Free 3:
Consider Your Choice
If you can condition yourself to pause and consider your food choice before you commit your tongue, you have learned a great secret of mindful eating. German researchers sorted the reasons we eat into 15 core motives. Check 'em out; you'll recognize many of your own drivers for diving in that have nothing to do with being hungry. Getting to know them is one key to mastering mindful eating.
- Liking: I eat this food because it tastes good.
- Habit: This is something I'm accustomed to eating regularly.
- Need and hunger: I am hungry or need an energy boost.
- Health: I'm trying to maintain a balanced diet or stay in shape, and this food achieves that goal.
- Convenience: This food is quick or easy to prepare, convenient, or readily available.
- Pleasure: I want to indulge or reward myself. This food puts me in a good mood.
- Tradition: My family always eats this food on this holiday. I always snack on this food during this activity.
- Natural concerns: This food is organic, fair trade, environmentally friendly, or natural.
- Sociability: It's pleasant to eat with others. Eating makes social gatherings more enjoyable or comfortable.
- Price: This item is inexpensive, on sale, free, or I've already purchased it.
- Visual appeal: The package is appealing, the food is nicely presented.
- Weight control: This food is low in fat or calories, and I'm trying to lose weight.
- Emotional regulation: I'm sad, frustrated, lonely, bored, or stressed, and this food cheers me up.
- Social norms: It would be impolite not to eat this—I wouldn't want to disappoint.
- Social image: This food is trendy right now and reinforces the image I want to portray.
Snacks keep hunger at bay so you don't run to the vending machine at work or grab a Friday doughnut at the office. If you have them handy every day, you won't be tempted by sugar-filled or calorie-dense packaged foods. Making your own at the beginning of the week helps you be proactive about mindful eating and gives you the goods for healthier snacking.
Pretend You're a Food Critic
Your job isn't just to scarf down the food on your plate—you have to take note of the presentation, the nuances of every flavor, and how satisfying each item is. "When you bite into a grape, all of these juices come out— and there are sensations you'd totally miss if you just stuffed a handful of grapes into your mouth," says Katie Rickel, PhD, a clinical psychologist and weight-loss expert who works at a weight-management facility in Durham, North Carolina. "Try to follow the first bite down your esophagus and into your belly, and take a moment to notice whether you feel one grape more energetic." In mindful eating workshops, people first practice this with just three or four raisins. "That really brings people's attention down to their sensory experience," says Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, an assistant professor at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California—San Francisco. "They really notice the texture, the smell, and the thoughts that come up."
This excerpt has been edited and condensed for clarity.
For the complete plan to give up added sugars for three weeks, order Sugar Free 3.