A healthy weight does not look the same for everyone. Gender, height, age, body frame and composition, health goals, and activity levels are some of the important factors to take into account when assessing what a healthy weight is for your body. While there is no one equation that works for everyone in determining an ideal weight, there are a number of factors that are helpful for anyone with a weight loss goal, starting with eating habits.
Mindful eating is a concept that encompasses your “why” surrounding food habits. Are you eating out of hunger? Or as you looking for a snack to distract from the stress you are feeling at work? Unfortunately, most adults don’t take the time to think through the “why.” If you can stay more aware of your eating cues and put a brief pause between wanting a snack and getting it, you can set up yourself to be able to make more mindful choices to better serve your goals.
While this concept may be easier said than done, any mindfulness in this area is progress in a helpful direction. With less impulsive eating, you are likely to reduce your calorie intake, improve the quality of food you are consuming, and, in turn, work towards a healthful weight. The psychological aspect of eating habits plays a major role in long-term weight management and overall health.
Having the right nutritional and lifestyle support can help you to begin on the path toward mindful eating. Here are some ways to positively influence your mindful approach to weight loss.
While no foods are “off-limits” when it comes to mindful eating, it’s important to have a kitchen stocked with the foods that will best support you on your weight loss journey. That means covering all of your nutritional bases. Here are three food types to consider when developing a nutrition plan with weight loss in mind.
There are two main types of dietary fats: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are those known to provide numerous health benefits, including reducing cholesterol levels and providing anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to their health properties, unsaturated fats are very satiating, meaning they help you feel full and satisfied, and less likely to grab an extra serving at dinner or reach for additional snacks throughout the day. This is especially helpful when trying to manage calories for a weight loss goal! Healthy fats can take many different forms, like nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils. Each meal you enjoy should contain a healthy form of fat to increase your feeling of fullness. Almond butter is a tasty, versatile option. You can spread almond butter on whole-grain toast at breakfast, enjoy it with an apple for a snack, or mix it into plain Greek yogurt for a protein boost.
Sugar can be found in a wide array of food products, many that you may have never realized! Found in salad dressings, pasta sauces, bread products, and flavored yogurts, too much sugar can deter weight goals. While it is perfectly reasonable to enjoy sugar-sweetened items mindfully and in moderation, there are some great alternatives available that provide the sweet flavor you may be looking for without the calories and inflammatory properties of sugar. Many sugar substitutes are chemically based, which comes along with its own slew of possible health issues. However, stevia is a sugar alternative that is derived from a plant with little to no chemicals added in. Available in liquid and granulated forms, stevia is a wonderful zero-calorie alternative that can be used in place of sugar in any recipe of your choice. By using healthier options in place of sugar, you can significantly reduce your calorie intake while enjoying some of your favorite food and beverages when working towards a weight loss goal.
Many common beverages, like soda, juice, and other sugar-sweetened drinks can actually deter weight goals. However, there is one common beverage out there that can actually be quite beneficial when aiming for weight loss. Tea contains compounds, including caffeine, that are thought to boost fat-burning processes in your body, and, in turn, contribute to weight loss. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that contributes to fat burning and even athletic performance. More uniquely, green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a compound thought to increase metabolism. With these two substances, green tea may aid in weight loss when in conjunction with a well-balanced diet. Enjoy plain or unsweetened flavored green tea for its weight loss benefits and antioxidant properties.
While supplements can help fill in gaps in nutrition and provide healthful benefits, proper food choices should be a priority when keeping weight loss in mind. After all, they are meant to supplement, not take the place of a proper, well-balanced style of eating.
That said, supplements can be a healthful addition to a well- balanced diet when it comes to weight loss goals. The best way to utilize supplements for weight loss is to combine them with good food choices, a healthy lifestyle, and regular exercise. It is always important to check with your physician before beginning a supplement regimen as they may interfere with medications and impact their potency. Here are three to consider as you embark on your mindful eating journey to weight loss:
Similar to the healthy fats we previously mentioned, protein is a nutrient known for its high satiety value. The more protein and fat you eat, generally the more full and satisfied you will feel following a meal or snack. While you can certainly get protein from food sources, like meat, dairy, and nuts, protein powder can be an easy and convenient way to boost your protein intake. Luckily, this supplement comes in many different forms. Those who enjoy dairy products may choose whey protein, while individuals who follow a plant-based diet or have a sensitivity to dairy may prefer a plant-based protein, like hemp, pea, or soy. While these different varieties of protein will all have different flavors and textures, they are all quite versatile. Incorporate them into a smoothie, mix into your oatmeal, or make a simple shake with your favorite milk for a post-exercise snack.
Otherwise known as MCT oil, this is a product produced from saturated fat, most often from coconut. While there are known brain health and cognitive benefits associated with this unique type of fat, MCTs can be used as an energy source in the body, which may promote weight loss. Additionally, as a highly concentrated form of fat, MCTs can promote satiety leading to a lower calorie intake that may further encourage weight loss. You can consume MCT oil on its own, as part of a smoothie or shake, or even incorporated into your favorite salad dressing.
Fiber is a nutrient found in a variety of food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. While consuming the majority of your total fiber intake from a variety of these food sources is ideal, supplemental fiber can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Soluble fiber can promote healthy levels of blood cholesterol, and, in turn, heart health, while insoluble fiber can promote fullness and proper digestion. Both forms of fiber are found in most fiber supplements, so if you aren’t consuming adequate amounts through your food choices, a fiber powder, gummy, or capsule may be a good addition to your routine.
While nutrition and exercise are the cornerstones of achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, there are plenty of lifestyle factors that play a role in your weight. For example, managing stress and sleep can be important factors in creating an environment in your body that is ideal for weight loss and supporting mindful eating. To help manage those factors, here are two items to incorporate into your lifestyle:
Frequently used in a diffuser, essential oils can aid in overall health in a host of ways. When it comes to stress management and improved sleep, there are a couple of oils in particular that are thought to be helpful. Lavender can be found in a wide variety of products, like lotions, sprays, and essential oil. Inhaling lavender essential oil before bed is thought to improve sleep quality by leading to deeper sleep and decreasing heart rate and blood pressure. Similarly, inhaling sage essential oil is thought to provide a calming effect that may help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Many bath salts are designed with stress reduction and muscle relaxation in mind. You will frequently see calming scents, like lavender, in bath salts, in addition to magnesium and eucalyptus oil that may help relieve tension and in turn reduce stress. When experienced chronically, stress can imbalance hormones and make weight loss more challenging. While exercise and meditation are beneficial ways to manage stress, enjoying a bath that includes subtle, relaxing scents and minerals to aid in stress relief may be enjoyable ways to reduce stress, too.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of products that can support your mindful eating strategies and play a beneficial role in weight loss. While everyone may approach weight loss differently, it is important to make choices that keep your short- and long-term health in mind while working toward your weight loss goal. These products will help most when they are part of a well-rounded lifestyle that takes into account reasonable food choices, regular exercise, proper hydration, and stress management.