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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.
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.
If you eat more when you’re distracted, does that mean you’re likely to eat less when you eat mindfully and lose weight?
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.
If you’re interested in building mindful eating habits, here are some tips to get started.
You don’t have to practice mindful eating at every meal, it shouldn’t feel like a chore.
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:
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.
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.