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Sustainable Weight Loss – Part 2:
Mindful Eating

The Three P’s of Mindful Eating woman_eating_salad

  • Planning
  • Portion Control
  • Possibilities and Parties

Essential to sustainable weight loss is a sustainable eating program. This can be attained through the three P’s of Mindful Eating


Planning can consist of making a detailed meal plan that adheres to whichever diet you feel works for you; or you can create a list of food options for “habitual eating times”.

A “habitual eating” program is a bit looser than a planned diet and can account for what you may have on hand in the fridge at any given time. It’s the idea of knowing a list of healthy food options so you’re not always guessing, postponing eating until you’re starving, and then caving in to the nearest Starbucks or fast food restaurant.

In general home-made meals will have healthier ingredients, less fat, smaller portions, and be cheaper than meals bought out.

Think of habitual eating as an internal menu of healthy foods you like

An example of habitual eating would look like this:

Breakfast Options:

  • 2 eggs with toast;
  • OR bowl cereal (low sugar) with milk (2%);
  • OR bowl 2% cottage cheese with fruit
  • OR yogurt/granola

Mid-Morning Snack Options: One of the following:

  • Toast with spread, raisin-toast w/ spread (e.g. margarine, cream cheese, or peanut butter)
  • 1/2 bagel with spread,
  • hard-boiled egg,
  • apple or banana,
  • cucumbers and/or carrots
  • celery sticks (with or without peanut butter)
  • handful of nuts or sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 avocado w/ scoop cottage cheese and sunflower seeds on top (Can be expanded into a lunch–see below
  • yogurt (can sprinkle fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds)

Lunch Options: One of the following:Lunch

  • Sandwich (home-made): Turkey, tuna, ham or veggie with a side of veggies (e.g. veggie salad e.g. lettuce, tomato, carrots/celery sticks) can also have a side of a small portion (e.g. ice-cream scoop size) of potato or pasta salad–better if made with oil than mayo, but either works fine.
  • “Chef-type” salad: (sample ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, red/green peppers, cukes, olives, ham slices, turkey slices, cottage cheese, grated cheddar or other cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds, dressing–vinegar and oil type)
  • “Hearty” soup (e.g. with meat, veggies, rice or potato) and piece of toast or a roll
  • Any of the a.m. snack options can be expanded into a lunch by combining 2 or three options or taking the “chef salad” approach to the ingredients.

Afternoon Snack: select from same foods as “morning snacks”.

Dinner Options:

  • Protein (chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat, ham, pork, tofu, eggs)–grilled, sauteed, baked, or poached.
  • Veggies (salad or steamed) with oil & vinegar dressing–e.g. “Newman’s Own” oil and vinegar
  • Starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, whole grains such as barley)

fist_cropped Portion Control

Portion control is essential for sustained weight loss and maintaining a steady weight once you succeed in losing the weight. In general a “portion” of any part of a meal or snack should be no larger than your fist, unless it’s raw or steamed non-starch vegetables.

Portion control does not mean deprivation: you can still have that ice cream once or twice a week: instead of a whole bowl, though, have one scoop.

Possibilities and Parties

We plan to do something but life inevitably happens.

We’re distracted or interrupted in our process and get off track. This will occur from time to time: Expect it. Make a plan to either manage it or prevent it.

Make a list ahead of time–what gets you off track?

  • Is it eating out?
  • Going to a party?
  • Getting sick?
  • Work stress?
  • Family (spouse, kids) meal needs are different from yours?

Take a few minutes and think through each of these possibilities. You can use a cognitive approach such as listing contingency options for dealing with specific challenges and set-backs.

aikido on the beach You may succumb to a binge once-in-a-while. Accept it and use a technique called “mental aikido” in which you visualize your backslide as an opponent who you first engage (e.g. grasp fists), then step aside, allowing your adversary’s momentum to throw her off balance.

If it does happen, don’t beat yourself up over it. Use your tools–your contingency plan, your mental aikido to regain your balance and get back to your program as soon possible.

Alcohol and Treats

One of my favorite decadences is a glass of good red wine and a piece of chocolate (Dove or Ghirardelli).

Alcohol and goodies can be incorporated into your program as long as you remain mindful of your portions. However, portion control applied to alcohol and desserts is more like a half-fist:

If you enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner, don’t deprive yourself of that luxury–limit it to one. Try not to have beer or wine more than three times per week as they are both high-calories for the “nutrition”.

Go ahead and have that yummy dessert–but have a slim slice of cake or pie, not a huge chunk, a small scoop of ice cream, etc.

Better yet–make a habit of substituting healthful desserts (e.g. fruit) for high-calorie desserts (e.g. ice cream). Eat yogurt with your fruit instead of ice cream. Make a plain cake without icing, or corn bread, and put a dab of honey on it for a dessert…endless possibilities!

Why You Need Fats and Carbs to Sustain Weight Loss:

I am NOT a fan of “low fat” or “low carbohydrate” diets (see simple math). You’ll notice I said to use a spread such as margarine, cream cheese, or peanut butter on bread; and I encourage you to use a vinegar and oil dressing on your salad/steamed veggies.

Fats and carbohydrates are not only essential to your body’s needs, they also create a sense of “satiety” so you don’t feel hungry after a meal. A healthy balance of fats and carbohydrates within each meal is necessary for proper metabolism of sugars and appropriate insulin secretion. If you eat a “low carb” or “low fat” meal and feel hungry an hour later, you’re more likely to over-snack or over-eat at the next meal, or have a sugary “treat” in-between meals. So you’ve lost any perceived gain of the “low fat/low carb” meal.

What Do You Think?

Are the Three P’s of Mindful Eating and the principle of simple math things you think you can incorporate into your eating plan?

Have you lost a significant amount of weight?

What worked, what didn’t?

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