Sitting most of the day and grabbing whatever, whenever to eat, Joe Williams knew something needed to change if he wanted to lose weight. Then, he tried a wellness campaign at work that includes thinking about what you're eating while you're eating it.
"Thinking of not only what you're eating, kind of how you're eating it," Joe explains.
It's called mindful eating.
Leading wellness expert Dr. Carolyn Dunn says Americans aren't mindful enough, elaborating, "We have gotten into a habit in this country of distracted eating that we eat in our cars we eat at our desk we eat in front of a screen whether that's a television or an iPad or a computer."
Using your mind has benefits. Dr. Dunn collected research on obesity and wrote a review article that found it really is a mind over matter issue when it comes to losing weight-and keeping it off. She says research proves mindful eating may provide substantial benefit to the treatment of overweight and obesity.
"That review article really revealed to us that heightened awareness of choosing the foods that we choose and not just driving into that drive-through because that's what we've always done or choosing that certain food because that's what we've always eaten."
Diets do not have to be about deprivation. We can even occasionally choose less healthy options if we stop to savor them. The studies show focusing on the first couple bites, and truly appreciating the taste, is critical.
Dr. Dunn explains, "How does the food look on the plate? How does that first bite feel on your tongue, taste as you swallow it?" She says doing this can help you stop after just a few bites.
The research shows really thinking about what you're taking in helps with portion control. Also, writing it all down on paper or a phone app matters.
"That will bring that awareness back of being more mindful about what you're eating and drinking," Dr. Dunn said.
Joe does all of that and gets up and walks around his workplace each hour. He says he doesn't feel deprived -- just smarter and more aware.
"It really kind of gets into understanding that it's more of kind of a mindset and how you can really begin to make some real changes in your life," he says.