When we eat too quickly or too distractedly we tend to eat more than when we concentrate on the food. Eating mindfully is a step that can significantly help with weight loss. With Appetite Retraining the focus is on making stepwise changes to your eating patterns rather than overhauling your eating patterns all at once. One important step for many people is simply that of focusing on what they are eating while they are eating it.
Being distracted leads to eating more
When researchers in Holland compared how much people ate when they were simultaneously engaged in a demanding mental task (memorising a 7-digit number) compared with an easier mental task (remembering a 1-digit number), they found that the people doing the more difficult mental task consumed more.
Being distracted reduces taste sensitivity
The same study found that the people doing the more demanding task rated the foods they were given as less intense and they preferred the stronger tastes. The researchers suggested that when you are focusing on something else while eating, your taste perception is reduced because you have less attention allocated to your sensations of taste.
Being distracted diverts attention from your sensations of fullness
Being able to register the point of being just full is a key feature of Appetite Retraining. When you stop eating at the point of being just full, you are using your body’s natural signals to regulate your eating. And when you do that, you have the ability to lose weight and maintain your new weight without diet sheets or calorie counting.
Focusing improves the experience of eating
Turning your attention to the taste of what you are eating allows you to enjoy a much greater sensory experience of the food. Given that we eat partly for pleasure, this is an important benefit. It also allows you to notice when you are not particularly enjoying eating.
Marcus found that when he used Appetite Retraining to lose weight, he discovered that he didn’t enjoy shop-bought sandwiches much at all. Focusing on the taste of what he was eating meant that he noticed that they seemed bland. This was a revelation as he had bought them for work regularly for years. He switched to taking other lunches to work such as oat cakes and his favourite cheese and tomatoes or his favourite supermarket fresh soups. Not only did he lose weight and keep it off, but he enjoyed his meals much more.
Focusing helps you know when to stop eating
Whatever you are eating, if you are hungry when you start then you can use the natural signals from your stomach and gut to tell you when you’ve had enough. As well as focusing on the taste of the food, tuning in to increasing sensations of fullness while you are eating allows you to notice when you are just full. The benefits of stopping eating at that point are in not eating unnecessary extra food and in allowing your body to digest this meal so that you are hungry in time for the next. When you are hungry at the start of a meal or snack, food tastes fantastic! (unless it is drab, in which case you’ll really notice).
Read more about how your natural system for regulating eating and appetite works