By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
Want to feel more satisfied after meals? You can, if you put your mind to it.
Eating mindfully, which can mean everything from simply noticing what you’re putting in your mouth to practicing stress reduction techniques to help end stress eating, can really help. When you become a more mindful eater, you savor, enjoy, and remember fondly each bite and sip of your meal. The end result: You’ll feel more satisfied and less likely to rummage around for more food.
In a recent University of Southern California review of 21 mindful eating studies, 18 of them helped improve in eating habits, cut calorie intake, and reduced bingeing.
There are entire books on the subject, so I won’t attempt to cover every aspect. Instead, here are my top five strategies; they work for me—and have helped people who’ve come to me for nutritional counseling.
- Identify why you’re eating or drinking. Is it because you’re actually hungry? (Rating your hunger for a week can be an eye-opener.) Or are you eating because you’re bored, stressed, or have another emotional trigger? Is it just habit (as in “I always have a 3 p.m. snack.)? Name the reason without judgment or guilt; these negative emotions can stress you out, driving you to overeat even more. (more…)
It is easy to understand that we are unaware of our breathing patterns while we sleep, but most of us don’t think this is true during our waking hours. For instance, do you know how you are breathing right now? Did you have to stop to think about it for a few seconds or were you so connected to your breath you could answer the question instantly? Most people are oblivious of the quality, rate, or depth of their breath at any given moment during the day. After all, who has the time to think about breathing all day long?
Nirinjan Yee, founder and president of BreathResearch, has come up with a solution to help us track our breathing throughout the day. Why does this matter? Because according to Yee, better breathing means better living. From professional athletes to the elderly, breathing is not only essential, it can improve performance, optimize health, and increase inner contentment and well-being by reducing stress.
So how can you track your breathing? With an iOS app called MyBreath. Rooted in more than 35 years of research, MyBreath has the ability to analyze, track and retrain your breathing patterns. Download the app straight to your iPhone and track your breathing in 90-second intervals, upload your data, get feedback, and track your progress. (more…)
If you don’t have the luxury of sitting for hours to contemplate the meaning of life, or the solitude to sneak in an hour or two of quiet time to realign your soul’s intention for being alive, you are not alone. In this day and age, American’s are hard pressed to chill out and enjoy the simple pleasures of being mindful.
We all know meditation offers many health benefits. If it didn’t, Medicare would not cover it under their insurance plan, nor would people like Donna Karan spearhead a movement to offer it to cancer patients in hospitals. The problem most people have is finding the time to practice.
It may not be a full-scale meditative program, but the following three-minute “time-out” can at least help you eliminate some stress and tension from your day at the office. Practice once a day to begin, and then if time permits, add another session when needed. (more…)
Yoga styles are like snowflakes; there are no two exactly alike. While there may be major differences in every style, there are common rules for every yoga practice that are worth adhering to.
Put the following yoga rules at the top of your must-not-break list for all styles of yoga to ensure you’ll gain more enjoyment from your practice.
Rule #1 – honor your real limits
This is a tricky rule, because there are clearly two types of limits: Self-imposed limits and real limits. Self-imposed limits are those that we cling to when we are most likely afraid, unmotivated, or disinterested in improving. An example of a self-imposed limit is thinking you are completely unable to get better at yoga because you are too stiff. These types of limits can be broken, and yoga helps us do that. (more…)
Whether you observe Lent for religious purposes, or just use the time as an opportunity to reflect, realign and restate your New Year’s resolutions, the 40 days that follow Mardi Gras can help you adapt to healthier habits.
The following suggestions will help you brighten your perspective during this thoughtful time of restraints so you don’t experience success-stealing withdrawals from your favorite guilty pleasures. Turn your old bad habits into new healthy habits by incorporating mindfulness meditation and yoga, and by repeating positive affirmations.
The next time you find yourself craving left over Valentine’s Day candy for example, instead of rushing for the half eaten heart shaped box of chocolates, stop and take a moment to think before you act. Feeling powerless over food cravings can lower your self-esteem, leading to more cravings. Break the vicious cycle by pausing, connecting with the feelings and sensations associated with wanting to eat the candy, and then let go of the need to oblige your desire. Easier said than done? Not if you practice, again and again. The more you partake in mindfulness meditation, the more natural it becomes. Eventually you will be the ruler of your cravings, rather than a slave to them.
For many, Lent is a time to give up something for the purpose of honoring the 40 days Jesus was said to walk through the desert, lured by the devil on many occasions. Christian or otherwise, Lent can be observed by anyone wanting to experience discipline, inner strength and conviction. Whether it is a vice we’ve been battling with, an addiction we need to curb, or simply the wish to deny ourselves our favorite luxury, the essence is in finding the devotion and dedication to let go of the inner demon of temptation.
Forty days is a long time to live without something you’ve been used to doing or having. Some of us make it easy on ourselves, while others will go all out in an effort to really challenge themselves. I have heard vegetarians say they are going to give up meat for Lent, and just recently my father told me he was going to give up listening to his Wayne Newton albums. Both are absurd, the prior for obvious reasons, and for those of you who don’t know my dad, he is definitely not a fan of Wayne Newton.
But for those of you who are actually going to give up something that will make you squirm, cringe, and want to renounce your devotion, the following meditation will help you stay the course.
While the mortality rate of women with breast cancer is decreasing, the incidence of depression in women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer is on the rise. As many as 50% of all women who are affected with the disease will experience some kind of post-recovery melancholy. Thankfully, researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri have brought to our attention a specific meditation technique, and suggest how it can help breast cancer survivors revive their zest for life.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of mindfulness training that uses the mind to combat anxiety and bring about a sense of wellbeing. It includes mental practices that heighten physical awareness, as well as yoga and time spent in quiet, reflective meditation. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR helps people foster their own mind-body connection, as well as create a deeper awareness of how thoughts and feelings can affect physical and emotional health.
The MBSR program consists of eight to ten week group sessions including practice in meditation skills, stress response and coping techniques. The University of Missouri’s team of researchers gathered data from the participants during and after the group sessions. Measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate were recorded. Not surprisingly, the participants’ physical responses to MBSR were favorable. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate all decreased, suggesting a lowered stress response. In addition, the subjects said their mood improved and their level of mindfulness increased.
A study conducted by two Harvard University researchers suggests that people’s wandering minds are to blame for their unhappiness. In addition, they found that happiness was not necessarily a consequence of what someone was doing, but how focused they were while doing it.
Using an Internet-based cell phone application to gather feedback, the researchers asked their subjects if they were focused while engaged in certain activities, or if their minds were drifting towards something totally different. The subjects were then asked to describe their level of contentment during each activity.
The results concluded that people’s minds wander at least 50% of the time and while the mind is wandering, most people feel unhappy. It is worth noting that in this experiment minds wandered less during sex, exercise or while engaged in conversation and more in those who were working, using a home computer or resting. However you want to interpret this, the important message is that we only spend half of our waking hours focused and experiencing happiness.
Do you want to be happy more than 50% of the time, whether you are working, exercising or spending time with others? The following tips will help you focus, and “be here now” as esteemed spiritual leader Ram Dass famously states.
Researchers at Seattle Washington’s Group Health Research Institute lead a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The results, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine are creating quite a buzz.
This study was conducted to determine whether yoga is a more effective method of relieving low back pain versus conventional stretching or the use of a self-care book for primary care patients with chronic low back pain.
Of the 228 adults that participated in this study, all had a type of low back pain that was not a result of a spinal disc problem or any other specific cause. In twelve weekly classes, 91 patients practiced stretching and 92 practiced yoga. The other 45 patients used the self-care book.
A back related functional status questionnaire and test of pain level was conducted before, during and after the study. The testing concluded that the outcomes in the yoga group were superior to those in the self-care group, however yoga was not superior to the conventional stretching method group in related back function and low back pain.
Are you lacking in time or motivation to make it a yoga class today? Don’t worry; you can still practice yoga even if your mat is hiding out in the closet or lost somewhere in the back seat of your car.
Many people see yoga as a workout that strengthens, stretches, and relaxes our mind and body, but it is also deeply layered with philosophical premises. These premises are what help to fuel the sought after “post yoga glow” at the end of class. You will emit this glow after holding sometimes rigorous and sweat producing yoga poses, but there is a lot more you can explore beyond taking your favorite yoga class.
First, you must identify your intention for practicing yoga. Are you after a perfect rear end, sculpted arms and a flat stomach? Or is your approach more about reducing stress, heightening the awareness of your body or flirting with new levels of spirituality?
It is likely you will hear your yoga teacher ask you at the start of each class to set your intention before you begin the session. It may be explained to you that your intention can be large or small, or about giving or receiving. But why does this matter and is it even necessary?
To intend literally means to mentally have in mind something to be brought about into reality. When we intend to do something, it means we want to embark on a task or attain a goal. In theory, when we put our mind to it, we will have the power that will give us everything we need to forge ahead.
That is not always the case. The old adage, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but heaven is full of good works” means that unless we actually do something with our good intentions, they just lie dormant inside of our minds, as great ideas or wishful thinking.
But, there is hope after all. By setting an intention before yoga, (which is highly influential on the mind), we gain an advantage over the average rate of “good intentions gone by the wayside” and find ourselves moving above and beyond our loftiest aspirations.