One of the very effective weight management philosophies doing the rounds of the wellness community is ‘mindful eating’.
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Based on the Buddhist concept of ‘mindfulness’, eating mindfully is when you direct your awareness to what and how much you are eating to better your relationship with food, helping you shape and sculpt your body.
Read on to know all about how to harness mindful eating for weight management and actually enjoy the process of eating food.
What Is Mindful Eating?
According to nutritionists, mindful eating, a.k.a. intuitive eating is giving your food and the art of eating full attention, focusing on how the food looks, how it smells, how it tastes and how it makes you feel.
Researchers compare mindful eating to a mindful existence and that mindful eating is all about appreciating the fact that the process of eating is not only highly fulfilling but also a complex one.
Did you know?
According to mindfulness researcher Michael Mantzios of the Birmingham City University, applying mindfulness to eating also makes less likely for people to binge eat junk food, since they actually focus on what they have eaten.
According to a 2016 study, an individual’s ability to recognise fullness and hunger signals is sharpened by mindfulness.
This was observed when people were taught meditation which made them aware of their bodies, before giving them small/large Snickers bars and then allowed to eat all the chocolate cookies they wanted.
Those who’d done the meditation automatically adjusted their cookie consumption to compensate for the Snickers bar they’d already eaten.
Can mindful eating help you lose weight?
One of the biggest benefits of mindful eating is that when you’re conscious of what you’re eating, you end up choosing nourishing, healthy foods. Also, when distractions are limited, you also tend not to overeat and limit how much you consume.
Mindful eating helps one do away with distractions which could lead to making poor food choices, overeating, and ignoring physical discomfort signs.
This helps one establish a healthy relationship, helps people on how to control their food cravings, as well as lose weight.
Did you know?
According to an NIH-funded study conducted by psychologists at Duke University and Indiana State University, mindful eating approaches could not only help with weight loss but also could help treat eating disorders.
The study of 150 binge eaters showed mindfulness-based therapy reduced both depression and binge eating, apart from also helping individuals enjoy their food more and lessen their sense of struggle of having to control eating.
How to eat mindfully to lose weight?
1. Asking yourself why you’re eating:
The key to mindful eating for weight management is understanding why you’re eating.
For instance, observe your body’s reaction before reaching for any snacks – are you really hungry or are you bored? Know why you are reaching out for food.
2. Chewing food properly:
Savouring each bite of food before chewing it properly not only helps your food get digested properly but also introduces your taste buds to the complex flavours and textures of the food.
Thus, instead of wolfing down your food due to a bad habit or extreme hunger, one needs to focus on chewing and savouring each bite.
3. Drinking water prior to meals:
Research has shown that when one drinks water prior to meals, it not only helps one stay hydrated but also prevents one from overeating.
4. Eating sans distractions:
Mindful eating is about focusing only on food, so stepping away from work, or switching off the TV or closing your laptop is absolutely necessary.
Avoid listening to music too, because research says that you need to hear the noise your food makes in your mouth to avoid overeating, a.k.a. the ‘Crunch Effect’. These distractions also make you ignore the satiety signals your body gives out.
5. Waiting before getting seconds:
There’s a 20-minute time window until the brain receives signals of fullness from the gut. So, it’s easy for you to eat more during this window, leading to overeating.
So, why don’t you take a break before going in for round two of food? Make it a conscious decision, not a habit.
6. Taking note of your cravings:
Keep a record of your cravings by mindfully recognising when they happen and how they happen. Recognising cravings ensures that you make a conscious decision about whether you want to eat or not.
There could be a chance that you aren’t actually hungry, but you’re simply craving something.
Here are some ways on how to cheat responsibly on your diet.
7. Enjoying the eating process:
Eating is a process that should be done with judgement, but you should also be able to enjoy it.
The weight loss process could make one short-sighted enough to become too concerned with it, rather than enjoying one’s food.
So, stop counting calories all the time, let go of the self-imposed judgement and exile, and savour the process of eating and enjoying the food.
Eating mindfully is not an activity – it’s a state which when made a part of your lifestyle will find you happy, enjoying food, keeping steady weight and leading a healthy life.
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What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Some amazing benefits of mindful eating are better absorption of nutrients, better digestion, better food taste, prevents overeating, lessens useless food cravings, as well as weight loss.
What are some amazing stress-relieving foods?
Some great stress-relieving foods include nuts, red peppers, salmon minimum twice a week, the leafy-green spinach, oatmeal, dark chocolate, and tea.
How to control food cravings?
Drink water, eat more protein, plan our meals, fight stress, fight food cravings by drawing up a snacking time, getting enough sleep, not going hungry for too long and practising mindful eating.
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