New Year, New You! Part 3

On part 3 of our three-part series, we will discuss improving your eating habits for 2021, so you may stay on track with your New Year’s resolution. Joining us to complete the final chapter in this special series is Dr. Elizabeth H. Hess, family medicine physician at UHC Family Medicine and faculty.

1). When it comes to nutrition, those bad habits are difficult to break.

Most of us have developed habits in how, when and why we eat. When we want to make changes in our diet and nutrition, I think it’s very important to also reflect on our attitudes toward food and our relationship with food. How, when and why we eat can often have deep seated emotional triggers and if these issues are not addressed it can be difficult to make lasting changes to how we see and use food to nourish us.

2). When it comes to making improvements with your diet, where do you suggest we start?

A lot of patients often want to adopt a radical change or a so called “fad diet” and hope to see rapid changes in weight. Weight loss management experts often don’t recommend just one way of eating. It’s important that all the nutrients and micronutrients our body requires is included or supplemented in our eating pattern. As mentioned in the previous question, why and when we eat is important to address. For a starting point, I would suggest starting with a mindfulness eating program.

3). What is mindful eating and what does it involve?

Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating. You replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious healthier thoughts.

Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly in front of televisions or staring at smartphones. This is problematic because it can take your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you are full – often this signal is too late after we have already eaten too much.

Mindful eating involves eating slowly without distraction, learning to distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating as well as recognizing physical hunger cues and only eating until you are full. It also teaches us to engage all senses while eating and notice the effect food has on your feelings as well.

By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. You learn to recognize cues for physical hunger and fullness and become aware of triggers that lead to emotional eating. This mindful act of eating will lend to any nutrition program you adopt for weight management but most importantly build a healthy relationship and appreciation for the food you eat.

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