Mindful Eating for Weight Loss

Mindful Eating for Weight Loss

Are you familiar with the term “mindful eating”? You may have used mindful eating tactics in your own daily habits without even knowing it! In this article, we will explain mindful eating and walk you through some tips for implementing the practices to help with weight loss! 

What is mindful eating? 

The Center for Mindful Eating defines this practice as “the capacity to bring full attention and awareness to one’s experience, in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to food choice and the experience of eating.” The intent here is that people experience a more positive and joyful relationship with food, without feeling guilt and shame that is often accompanied with one’s eating experience. 

What are the principles of mindful eating?

The principles of mindfulness involve: 

  1. Deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally, in the present moment to the foods that you’re eating and your eating experience. 
  2. Both the internal processes and external environment. 
  3. An awareness of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. 
  4. Freeing yourself from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. 
  5. Promotion of balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is. 

What are the benefits of mindful eating? 

When we pay more mindful attention to our food and eating experience, the benefits can be significant.

  • We enjoy our food more because we are paying attention to the flavours and textures, as opposed to eating so quickly we don’t even remember what we ate! 
  • We pay closer attention to our hunger and fullness cues, causing us to eat when we are actually hungry (as opposed to bored, out of habit, etc.) and stop when we are full. 
  • It can have a positive impact on preventing reactive and habitual behaviours, like binge eating, overeating, eating out of habit or boredom, or eating too quickly. 

Can mindful eating help with weight loss? 

In short, yes! Preliminary studies have shown that practicing mindfulness behaviours can have a significant impact on weight and eating behaviours. 

Mindful eating does not involve restricting ourselves from our favourite foods or dieting. In fact - it is the exact opposite. When we learn how to eat mindfully, we are training our bodies and minds to enjoy and savour our favourite foods while listening to our bodies needs. Oftentimes, weight gain is a byproduct of disregarding our body’s hunger and fullness cues, and eating because we are in the habit of doing so, or because it makes us feel better emotionally. 

Here are some ways that you can start implementing mindful eating in your daily routine: 

  • Slow down while you’re eating. Take a break in between bites of food and set your fork down. Enjoy and savour every bite! 
  • Pay attention to the flavours, textures and aroma of your food. Truly enjoy every bite as a full sensory experience. 
  • Notice how certain foods affect how you feel. Do you feel energized after a meal or lethargic? This can give you a good indication as to which foods your body thrives on. 
  • Release guilt around certain foods and stop referring to foods as “good” or “bad”. All foods can fit within a healthy diet, guilt and shame has no positive impact on our health. 

References: 

Dalen, J., Smith, B. W., Shelley, B. M., Sloan, A. L., Leahigh, L., & Begay, D. (2010). Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 18(6), 260–264. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from 10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.008

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