5 Mindful Eating Tips for Weight Loss

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What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is the act of bringing your attention to what you are doing in the moment: eating.

Too often, we use meal time to watch a TV show, get some work done, or engage in mindless conversation. You know the feeling when you sit down for a meal, and you get up ten minutes later, not remembering what you ate or how you ate it all so fast? That is mindless eating. Where is the mind-body connection or even enjoyment in all that?

Mindful eating is connecting to our food as we eat by fully engaging our awareness to the process. 

I never quite thought about the positive health implications of this beyond the fact that I began to feel more energized when I ate mindfully. But a plethora of recent research has shown that the benefits are much more than just emotional.

Mindful eating has a practical application when it comes to weight maintenance, treating obesity, weight loss, and even diabetes self-management.

In the April 2013 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers reviewed 24 studies conducted on mindful, or attentive, eating to see what impact it had on diverse population groups. The researchers concluded that incorporating mindful eating into our diets provides an accessible and reliable way to monitor our food intake, maintain our weight, and aid in weight loss without the need for dreaded calorie counting. 

One main area that mindful eating seems to be affecting is our self-control with how much we eat.

One main area that mindful eating seems to affect is our self-control with how much we eat.

Through mindful eating, subjects seem to be more able to listen to their body’s physiological cues as far as how much food is needed, rather than just eating whatever is put in front of them. A study conducted on mindful eating in Australia found that mindful eaters end up eating smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods, which is reputed by nearly every diet to be an effective way to manage our weight and metabolism.

Mindful eating allows us to observe our emotions during meal times and not have them override our physical needs. Another study found similar results in university students. 86 percent of students who engaged in mindful eating ended up eating healthier diets, and showed an ability to avoid overconsumption and weight gain (and presumably late night pizza runs). Through mindful eating, we become more aware of what we are actually eating, and are more likely to monitor our diets.

When it comes to treating obesity, mindful eating is also showing promising benefits.

Though obesity is a complex issue and highly individualized, researchers have found that individuals with obesity tend to be more impulsive when it comes diet choices. In this study, the impulsivity of individuals’ food choices was first tested in a control run before training individuals in mindfulness and mindful eating.

Participants who completed the mindful eating session showed to have more self-control and to make less risk-averse decisions when it came to choosing food. These findings illustrate that mindful eating can change behavior in a way that leads to long-term weight loss.

Even in other serious chronic conditions, mindful eating could help in treatment.

In diabetes self-management research conducted at Ohio State University, mindful eating was studied in conjunction with diabetes self-management education (DSME), which focuses on educating patients about their food choices. Participants were split into two groups: one practiced mindful eating for three months, and the other practiced DSME for three months.

Researchers found that both groups showed nearly identical outcomes when it came to weight-management, lessened depressive symptoms, and resulted in higher energy. Researchers hope that this study can lead to further use of mindful eating as a part of diabetes management as it would be a “treatment” that is minimally expensive (you can do it on your own), and perhaps equally effective. Though more studies need to be conducted, these results are intriguing and promising. 

In summary, these studies are proving what mindfulness practitioners have sensed for generations: mindful eating allows us to actually listen to what our bodies are telling us about what we are eating and how much we need.

You may be thinking to yourself:

  • “Does this mean I have to eat by myself all the time?”
  • “Do I have to change my diet? This is nice and all, but really, my schedule is too busy to set aside a long chunk of time to eat slowly every day.”
  • “How is this practical?”

Mindful eating is not just another dietary fad. It isn’t asking you to change your food choices. Mindful eating will allow you to listen to your body to find the diet that’s actually best for you, whether that’s vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or something much more suitable for your lifestyle.

Mindful eating can be adapted to any diet effectively.

It does not ask you to eat as a hermit, either.

Communal eating is one of the best ways to connect with each other. What’s better than sharing a meal with family or close friends? By bringing mindfulness to eating with each other, we come back to the present moment.

Our phones are away, and our mind is on the people around us when talking and the food we are eating each time we take a bite. Our conversations have more depth, and we appreciate the meal much more.

Mindful eating does not have to be slow or take forever.

You can eat mindfully without moving at a sloth’s pace. Just pay attention to chewing the food. Put away your computer for a moment. I swear, you will still get your work done on time. After you finish eating, you will realize you weren’t only eating, but also meditating and recharging.

While eating slowly may help you ease into eating mindfully, you will soon see that it has more to do with focusing on eating when you’re eating, versus multi-tasking, which is what most of us tend to do.

Mindful Eating Tips

Here are a few suggestions on getting started:

  1. Set aside a meal time when you have some flexibility in your schedule. For the first mindful meal, you’ll want to be able to take your time. Make sure you are free from distractions: TV off, computer put away, smartphone on silent and out of reach, etc.
  2. Before you eat, take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Remind yourself to appreciate the good fortune that you have nourishment sitting in front of you (many don’t).
  3. Process the food through your senses. Appreciate what it looks like. Think about what the food feels like in your hand. How does it smell? What is the texture as you bite through? What flavors are coming through and at which parts of your tongue? By doing this, you’ll engage your attention on the present moment and the food at hand.
  4. Chew slowly, thoroughly, and mindfully. Remember, you’re not in a hurry and have all the time in the world right this minute. Put your fork/spoon down between bites.
  5. Journal the experience. This helps crystallize the positive experience in your mind, and reinforces the behavior. Next time you sit down to eat, remember this mindfulness practice and simply be fully present with your food.

To get mindful eating tips for weight loss, watch these 2 videos below –

Diabetes Matters: Mindless vs Mindful Eating

How to Change Eating Habits with Mindful Eating

Author Bio:

Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.

V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.

A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.

The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”

To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – Mindful Eating Tips for Weight Loss

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