You Already Have Exactly What It Takes to Keep Your Weight in Check

woman meditating outsideSo bizarre -- and unfair -- that millions of people around the world don't have enough to eat on a daily basis, but here in the Land of -- uh -- Good 'n' Plenty, we have a problem saying NO to food. In fact, 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. One BIG contributing factor? Our emotions.

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There's evidence that women who have high stress are prone to emotional eating. And, no surprise, a Finnish study found that people who stress-eat have the highest body weight.

Because duh, no one gorges on apple slices when they're upset. Think donuts and ice cream and french fries, oh my.

There's no pretty way to say it: When you're stress-eating, you're mindlessly shoveling in food, not really tasting it and probably definitely NOT keeping track of how much you're eating.

One way to stop? Practicing mindfulness.

"Mindfulness is linked to healthy weight loss and feeling great in your body," explains Happify expert Denise Clegg. "Mindful eating techniques can reduce food cravings and decrease emotional and binge eating."

Getting your mind and body to start working together is waayy easier than you might think. Here are a few tips for getting started:

1. Eat on purpose. For three days straight, plan one meal or snack to eat mindfully, suggests Clegg. "Mindfulness is about noticing ... so bring all your attention to the tastes and experience of eating."

Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and just concentrate on chewing, savoring, and swallowing. (And while that sounds like a dirty joke, you know what we mean.) Pay attention to what you're putting in your body.

2. Rate your hunger. "Many of us overeat because we just don't notice when our body feels full," Clegg explains. Or, we eat because it's a certain time and we think we "have" to, or because others around us are digging in.

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Start thinking of your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10. 10 will be "Thanksgiving full," while 1 is so hungry you feel lightheaded or sick to your stomach. Ideally, you always want to stay between 3-7 -- not starving, not disgustingly bloated.

"When you sit down and eat and when you are finished, notice how hungry you are on [that] scale," says Clegg. Start taking note, too, of what physical signs of hunger your BODY sends you, not your brain.

3. Choose nourishing foods that you actually LIKE. A king-sized candy bar might give you (very temporary) pleasure, but what are some HEALTHY foods that you like to eat? They deserve a little more of your attention.

"What's pleasurable about them?" asks Clegg. "How do you feel in your body when you feel nourished? Notice sensations in your body, your energy levels, and mental clarity."

If you can hone in on what you like so much about, say, mandarin oranges, or a handful of dry roasted almonds, then you might actually reach for them more often.

4. Take a breath. Before you eat -- heck, even before you CHOOSE a snack or dinner entrée -- "pause for a moment and take a deep breath, noticing how the breath feels in your body," says Clegg. "Tune into yourself and ask: 'What food would make me feel good right now?'"

No, you don't need to sit in lotus pose to do this. And if you accidentally on purpose wolf down a handful of chips while you're deep breathing, don't be too hard on yourself.

The point of all this is NOT to overthink food or get all judgy with yourself, FYI. "Just to notice how you're feeling, and make an intentional choice," says Clegg.

 

Image via iStock.com/francescoch

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