The grapefruit diet. Skipping meals. Low-carb eating. Meal replacements. Slashing calories.
If you’re struggling to lose some excess weight, it’s likely you’ve tried at least a few of these options when it comes to your diet. And if you’re like many people, you may have had some initial success, but then you hit a plateau or fall off the wagon and gain the weight back again.
The problem with restricted diet plans like these is that they’re generally lacking in variety, taste, quantity, or all three, and thus difficult to stick to for any length of time. They’re simply not pleasurable.
And according to Marc David, author of The Slow Down Diet, it’s the pleasure we’re missing out on most when it comes to eating.
David, a nutritionist with a master’s degree in the psychology of eating, believes that a sluggish metabolism is the underlying culprit for the majority of our stubborn weight loss issues, particularly in those instances when we seem to be doing everything right (exercising, counting calories, watching our sugar intake etc.), but just can’t seem to lose those last 20 pounds.
But the most interesting thing about David’s weight loss plan is that it doesn’t involve any of those so-called ‘right’ things to do.
Instead, he teaches his readers and clients that rediscovering the pleasure in eating will transform our relationship with food and greatly enhance our metabolism so that any excess weight comes off effortlessly. It will also increase energy levels, boost digestion, and improve our overall health and well-being.
Bringing Pleasure Back
So just how do we bring back pleasure into eating?
Well, for starters, we need to begin eating mindfully.
So many of us rush through our meals unconsciously, multitasking as we answer emails, feed the baby, and stuff a bagel in our mouths. Lunch is skipped altogether, or thoughtlessly consumed while we work at our desks. We can finish a full dinner only to realize we didn’t taste a single bite. And then of course the cravings set in. But we’re full. Aren’t we?
David suggests that when we rush through our meals mindlessly, filling ourselves with low quality, tasteless ingredients and processed concoctions, we miss out on one of the most important aspects of why we eat in the first place – enjoyment.
We don’t just eat to stay alive, though that’s how many of us have become; we are creatures of our senses, and we are driven to seek pleasure through them. When the pleasure is absent – whether it be through rushing, being stressed, feeling guilty, eating low quality ingredients, or simply not paying attention – our bodies and minds aren’t fully satisfied, even if we’ve eaten sufficient calories and nutrients.
By slowing down, relaxing and paying attention to the tastes, aromas, sights and textures of our food, two important things can occur: first, we may realize we don’t actually like the food we are eating; and second, we give ourselves a chance to enjoy the experience fully, and surprise surprise – we feel satisfied.
When we give ourselves permission to derive pleasure from eating, our minds, souls and our bodies feel satisfied. When our pleasure needs have been satisfied, we don’t feel that unceasing hunger for more.
And, what’s more, David’s findings and research show that the actions we take to slow down, relax and enjoy actually enhance our metabolism, and we naturally burn more fat and excess calories.
Mindful Eating Tips
So next time you sit down for dinner (if you sit down!), try these simple tips to bring the pleasure back to eating:
- relax – try some breathing exercises before and during the meal;
- make an effort to choose the best quality foods you can afford;
- set the table as if you were having an honored guest over for dinner;
- eat without distractions – no tv, social media, reading, etc.;
- deliberately and mindfully slow down – chew and swallow each mouthful before you put the next on your fork;
- pay attention to the tastes, aromas, sights and textures of your food – savor each mouthful thoroughly.
- pay attention to your inner dialogue, and replace guilt, shame or fear thoughts with more positive and supportive thoughts.