To begin with, Mindful eating is a technique that helps you keep your eating habits in check. This technique over time has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and help you feel better.
In this article, you’ll get to know what mindful eating is, how it works, and what you need to do to get started.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is a Buddhist concept that centers on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps you identify and manage your emotions and physical sensations.
Also, it’s used to treat a lot of conditions like eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and other food-related behaviors.
Furthermore, mindful eating has to do with using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating.
Fundamentally, mindful eating has to do with:
- eating slowly and without distraction
- listening to physical hunger clues and eating only until you’re full
- knowing the difference between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
- engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
- learning to manage guilt and anxiety about food
- eating to maintain overall health and well-being
- identifying the effects food has on your feelings and figure
- appreciating your food
Additionally, these things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
Again, Mindful eating depends on mindfulness which is a form of meditation. In summary, it is about developing an awareness of your experiences, physical cues, and feelings about food.
Mindful Eating Benefits
Today’s fast-paced society tempts people with a host of food choices.
On top of that, distractions have removed attention away from the actual act of eating toward televisions, computers, and smartphones.
Thus, eating has become a mindless act, usually done quickly. This can be a problem since your brain takes up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full.
If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much. This is very common in binge eating.
Also, through mindful eating, you restore your attention and slow down. This makes eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.
What’s more, by increasing your recognition of physical hunger and fullness cues, you are able to distinguish between emotional and true, physical hunger.
Furthermore, your awareness of triggers that make you want to eat increases, even though you’re not necessarily hungry.
By knowing your triggers, you can create a space between them and your response, giving you the time and freedom to choose how to react.
In addition, mindful eating helps you know the difference between emotional and physical hunger. Another thing it does is to also increases your awareness of food-related triggers and gives you the freedom to choose your response to them.
Mindful Eating and Weight Loss
It’s well known that a lot of weight loss programs don’t work in the long term. About 85% of people with obesity who lose weight return to or exceed their initial weight after some years.
Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, and eating in response to food cravings are said to cause weight gain and weight regain after successful weight loss.
Very serious exposure to stress might also play a significant role in overeating and obesity.
A huge majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by altering your eating behaviors and reducing stress.
A 6-month seminar led to an average weight loss of 26 pounds (12 kg) without any weight regain in the following 3 months.
Another 6-week group seminar on mindful eating among people with obesity led to an average weight loss of 9 pounds (4 kg) during the seminar and the 12-week follow-up period.
Changing the way you think about food replaces the negative feelings that might come with eating with awareness, improved self-control, and positive emotions.
Also, addressing unwanted eating behaviors increases your chances of successful long-term weight loss.
Mindful Eating and Binge Eating
Binge eating has to do with eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, mindlessly and without control.
Also, it has been linked to eating disorders and weight gain, and another study showed that almost 70% of people with binge eating disorder are obese.
Furthermore, Mindful eating might reduce the severity and frequency of binge eating episodes drastically.
Additionally, a study found that after a 6-week group intervention in women with obesity, binge eating episodes reduced from 4 to 1.5 times per week. The severity of each episode decreased as well.
In summary, Mindful eating can be of assistance in preventing binge eating. It can reduce the rate at which binges occur and the severity of each binge.
Mindful Eating and Unhealthy Eating
Apart from being an effective treatment for binge eating, mindful eating methods have also been shown to reduce both Emotional and External Eating.
Emotional Eating has to do with eating in response to certain emotions. On the other hand, External Eating happens when you eat in response to environmental, food-related cues, such as the sight or smell of food.
Also, these Unhealthy eating behaviors are the most commonly reported behavioral problems in people with obesity.
Furthermore, Mindful eating gives you the skills you require to deal with these impulses. It helps you put your responses in check instead of leaving you at the mercy of your instinct.
How To Practice Mindful Eating
To begin with, you need a series of exercises and meditations to practice mindfulness. A lot of people find it very helpful attending seminars, online courses, or workshops on mindfulness or mindful eating.
However, there are a lot of simple ways to get started. Some of these simple ways 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 these questions. Why am I eating? Am I truly hungry? and Is the food you chose healthy?
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to choose one meal daily to focus on these points. Once you are able to get the hang of it, mindfulness will become more natural. Then, you can focus on applying these habits in more meals.
Summarily, It takes practice to achieve mindful eating. Try to eat more slowly, chew thoroughly, remove distractions, and stop eating when you’re full.
Summary and Recommendations
Furthermore, if conventional diets haven’t worked for you, you might want to consider this technique.
Also, if you want to give mindful eating a try, there are many good books on the topic in stores and online you can find.