What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a technique which helps you gain control over your eating habits. It has shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and help you feel better.
Mindful eating is based on mindfulness, a Buddhist concept. Fundamentally, it involves:
- Eating slowly without distractions
- Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full
- Distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
- Engaging your senses by noticing colours, smells, sounds, textures, and flavours
- Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
- Eating to maintain overall health and well-being
- Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure
- Appreciating your food
These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
Mindful eating and weight loss
It’s well known most weight loss programs don’t work in the long term. Around 85% of people with obesity who lose weight return to or exceed their initial weight within a few years.
Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, and eating in response to food cravings have been linked to weight gain and weight regain after successful weight loss.
The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you to lose weight by changing your eating behaviours and reducing stress. By changing the way you think about food, the negative feelings that may be associated with eating are replaced with awareness, improved self-control, and positive emotions.
When unwanted eating behaviours are addressed, your chances of long-term weight loss success are increased.
How to practice mindful eating
To practice this type of mindfulness, you need a series of exercises and meditations. Many find it helpful to attend a seminar, online course, or workshop on mindfulness or mindful eating.
However, there are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits on their own:
- Eat more slowly and don’t rush your meals
- Chew thoroughly
- Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and putting down your phone
- Eat in silence
- Focus on how the food makes you feel
- Stop eating when you’re full
- Ask yourself why you’re eating, whether you’re truly hungry. and whether the food you choose is healthy
To start with, we would suggest to pick one meal a day to focus on these points. Once you got the hang of it, mindfulness will become more natural. Then you can focus on implementing these habits into more meals.
Mindful eating is a powerful tool to regain control of your eating. If conventional diets haven’t work for you, this technique could be worth considering.