Weight Loss
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7 minute read

How eating mindfully could help you lose weight

Written by
Reviewed by
DR JOSEPH SANTOS

When was the last time you truly tasted your food? Imagine biting into an apple and tasting the instant burst of sweet and slightly tart juice before it runs down your chin. You can hear the crunch of the flesh as it gnashes between your teeth. You might taste the sharp sensation of the pip and then feel the fleshy pulp on your tongue as you swallow it and take another bite. 

The truth is, most of us don’t eat like this. Usually, we eat while we’re doing other things like scrolling on our phone, watching TV or at the cinema. We rarely allow ourselves a moment to simply appreciate and even enjoy our food. 

However, when we pay attention to how we eat our food, it can help us reduce cravings and even lose weight. Here’s how. 

What is mindful eating?

You may have heard of mindfulness, or being mindful. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the current moment without judgment. Mindfulness has been found to increase well-being, reduce psychological symptoms and improve sleep quality

Similarly, eating mindfully is about paying attention to what you’re eating. When you eat mindfully, you take notice of each moment of the eating process. It’s not like being a food critic – you aren’t judging the food. You simply note each bite and what you can see, hear, smell, feel and taste before you swallow it. 

There are many benefits of mindful eating. You pay more attention to your internal hunger cues so you know when you’re hungry and when you’re full. You’re also likely to pay more attention to your likes and dislikes, then prepare foods that will satiate these tastes and reduce later cravings. As a result, it’s likely you will savour your food and enjoy it more.

The opposite of eating mindfully is mindless eating, or distracted eating. Distracted eating has been linked with eating more, particularly higher density food. 

If you eat more when you’re distracted, does that mean you’re likely to eat less when you eat mindfully and lose weight?

Mindful eating and weight loss

One systematic review (a review of ‌studies on mindful eating) found that in 19 studies, significant weight loss was documented among participants in mindfulness interventions for 13 of the studies. However, the author noted they couldn’t clarify the exact link between mindfulness and weight loss. They found that eating mindfully is highly likely to be associated with weight loss, there needs to be more studies to confirm it.

Another study found that people who ate mindfully, ate smaller portions which could help with weight loss. 

Although losing weight could be a positive by-product of mindful eating, it shouldn’t be the primary goal. Learning how to eat mindfully should be because you want to spend less time focused on restriction and more time learning how to eat your food without judgement, anxiety and guilt. 

When you eat mindfully, you undo the all-or-nothing mindset and eat according to what your body needs at that moment. 

How to start mindful eating

If you’re interested in building mindful eating habits, here are some tips to get started. 

  1. When you buy food at the supermarket or market, note what looks and smells good. It’s important to stock your fridge and pantry with food you like. Mindful eating isn’t about restriction, it’s about savouring your food.   
  2. At mealtimes, try to be hungry but not ravenous. Note your hunger cues and how they make you feel.
  3. Sit at the table rather than standing. This will help you limit distractions and allow you to concentrate on your food. Also, try to eat in silence rather than with television or your phone to distract you.
  4. Consider all your senses when you’re eating your food. How does the meal look, smell, taste, touch and sound? 
  5. Eat slowly so you can appreciate each bite and what flavour combinations you can taste. You could even close your eyes to appreciate what you’re tasting. 
  6. Chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing. 
  7. Take note of your hunger and whether it’s reducing. When you don’t feel hungry anymore, stop eating. 

You don’t have to practice mindful eating at every meal, it shouldn’t feel like a chore. 

Intuitive eating vs mindful eating

Intuitive eating and mindful eating are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they do have subtle differences. 

While mindful eating is about paying attention to what you are eating, intuitive eating is more about your general approach to food. Intuitive eating was created by two dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. 

There are ten principles to intuitive eating, some of which include: 

  • Eat for physical rather than emotional reasons.
  • Rely on hunger and satiety cues.
  • Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

Intuitive eating is about respecting yourself and your body. The aim of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality and to restore your relationship with food. 

With both mindful eating and intuitive eating, the aim is to enjoy food again.

Take a mindful approach to weight loss

If you’re looking for a fresh, more mindful approach to weight loss, Rosemary Health can help. We have doctor guided weight loss programs that consider your lifestyle, goals and your approach to food and wellbeing. Learn more about our doctor-guided weight loss program.

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