‘Mindful’ eating helps control weight gain

Dietary habits are constantly evolving and are dependent on a variety of factors.

By (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sat 11 Sep 2010, 1:12 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:59 AM

“In an age where self-esteem is inversely proportional to the size of waistlines and obesity is epidemic, it becomes even more critical to balance healthy eating habits with regular exercise. What you eat is an investment in yourself and the dividends for this accrue throughout your life,” says Nafeesa Ahmed, Director-Nutrition and Lifestyle Management, Zulekha Health Care Group

“We are what we eat. Therefore infuse your daily diet with a variety of healthy foods in order to assimilate all the necessary nutrients that your body needs,” she says.

“Practice mindful eating which involves paying attention to hunger and satiety as well as slowing down the pace of eating (chewing slowly, eating away from distractions like the computer or TV).”

Nafeesa says understanding the connection between emotions and eating choices plays an important part in becoming a mindful eater.

“A related process to mindful eating is the concept of ‘Intuitive eating’. It is complementary to mindful eating. The three key components of intuitive eating are: unconditional permission to eat, eating primarily for physical rather than emotional reasons and relying on internal hunger, fullness and satiety cues,” she adds.

“If people have rigid rules surrounding food, they become obsessed with the so- called foods and may binge. When on a diet, forbidden foods become more exciting. But when that is removed, one realises that it doesn’t feel good to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the bad, guilty feeling is gone, one of the major triggers for overeating is removed. The intuitive eaters begin to select a variety of foods to eat and become experts of their own bodies,” says the nutritionist.

“No matter what companies or diet experts say, there are no quick fix solutions to excessive weight gain. Avoid fad diets and focus more on balancing your lifestyle with healthy meals and routine exercise,” she warns.

“In years past, people were more active and had more metabolically active tissue, so weight control wasn’t a big problem. With inactivity and poor food choices, overweight and obesity become epidemic.”

According to the expert, the major benefits of activity are its ability to metabolise fat and lower circulating levels of fat in the blood and the ability to maintain the elasticity of large arteries. “As exercise always burns calories, it always contributes to weight control.”

Current day professionals are faced with a daily challenge of putting together a quick, easy, tasty yet healthy meal under an hour. Ingredients on the labels should always be checked more so by those who are susceptible to food allergies (nuts, MSG).

Benefits of wise eating and exercising habits are:

Higher levels of energy; feeling of well being and contentment

Continuing independence from medicines and weight issues

An improved immune system and reduced susceptibility to chronic diseases

Healthy food

Low fat cheese and vegetable salad rolled in chapattis, khubus, burritos or tacos.

Precooked minced meat/beans can be added to increase the nutritive value.

Peanut butter, grilled chicken, boiled egg whites or low fat cheese sandwiches accompanied by a vegetable or fruit salad.

Varieties of canned beans can be mixed with corn, vegetables and garnished with low fat salad dressing.

Top a readymade whole wheat pizza pastry with your choice of vegetables, chicken or salami and cheese. Bake till done (about 10 mins).

Add vegetables to whole wheat noodles while boiling to improve taste and nutritive value.


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