Lose Weight for Good with Mindful Eating!
Have you found yourself yoyo dieting for years? Are you fed up with unrealistic diets? Have you lost weight on a complete deprivation diet, but found yourself gaining all that weight back – but, this time, twice as fast? Well – how does it sound to be able to finally lose weight and keep it off for good? This can all be achieved with the practice of mindful eating!
Mindful eating assists with weight loss because emotional eating becomes eliminated and cravings are significantly reduced. You will begin to eat based on true hunger and stop eating once you feel satiated. And one of the best parts – the eating experience will leave you completely satisfied!
What is Mindful Eating?
To begin learning what mindful eating is, we first need to understand the concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Mindful eating uses the practice of mindfulness to develop healthy, intuitive eating habits.
Harvard Health defines mindful eating as follows, “being fully attentive to your food – as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it.” Mindful eating is a way to approach food without feelings of judgment.
Mindful eating is a way of eating that allows you to break away from rules around food and allow you to truly tune in and listen to what your body needs and desires.
Mindful eating has helped thousands of people break away from years of unsuccessful yoyo dieting and find a way of eating that is sustainable throughout their entire lifetime. Because let’s face it – restrictive diets are NO fun.
These new eating patterns remove the stress and anxiety around food and allow individuals to eat the foods they want and be able to stop eating when they begin to feel full.
How Can Mindful Eating Help You Lose Weight?
Well, when rules around food are diminished, you can eat without feelings of deprivation and eat with more satisfaction. Studies have found that restricting foods or labeling them as “bad”, makes you crave that food even more!
And eventually – those cravings lead to a binge or over-consumption of that particular food.
When you begin to eat mindfully, you can eat those feared foods again and have control over them. This leads to sustainable weight loss, increased satisfaction, fewer binges, and improved self-esteem.
Studies have found that those who diet are three times more likely to become overweight. Alternately, mindful eaters have been shown to have lower BMIs, higher self-esteem, and less anxiety!
And – you can even lose weight while doing it! Seems like a win-win, right?
Health Benefits of Mindful Eating
Researchers have found that mindful eating practices have resulted in the following health benefits:
- Weight loss or weight maintenance (that is actually sustainable)
- Increased awareness of hunger and fullness cues
- Increased satisfaction with food
- Improved digestion
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced episodes of over-eating and binge-eating
- Improved self-confidence and body awareness
- Fewer cravings
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Better control over blood sugar levels
- Increased desire for healthier food choices
Beginning the journey of mindful eating can be challenging at first. It takes time for you to learn your body’s inner cues and be able to act on them accordingly. With mindful eating, you can finally break free from years of yoyo dieting, deprivation, and stress. This way of eating will result in numerous health benefits (physically, mentally, and emotionally) that a traditional diet could never provide.
6 Key Concepts of Mindful Eating
In order to begin practicing mindful eating, we need to learn some key concepts. You won’t be able to become a mindful eater without starting with the 6 basics.
Limit distractions as much as possible while eating. Examples of distractions include watching tv, being on the phone, driving, working, and reading. Distracted or mindless eating tends to lead to over-eating or diminished satisfaction.
Try putting the fork down between bites. You want to spend at least 20 minutes on each meal. This is because this is the amount of time it takes for your brain to recognize the chemical signals for detecting fullness.
Engage the Senses
Being able to pay close attention to your senses is an easy way to become more mindful during meals. Some of these particular senses include taste, smell, texture, and sight.
A good way to practice this concept is by pretending to be a food critic! Really tune in to how the food feels in your mouth, its flavor when it touches your tongue, the aroma, and the sound it makes as you take a bite and chew.
Eat When Hunger Cues Arise – Stop When Feelings of Fullness Emerge
This may seem like a foreign concept for many. Being able to notice these feelings of hunger and fullness take time and practice! We often eat because of external factors (the time of day, availability of food, work schedule) and not because of how we truly are feeling internally. In later posts, we will dive into the practice of how to better notice these internal signals.
For now, begin to acknowledge your hunger by eating when you feel physical symptoms of hunger arise. Some of these symptoms include stomach growling, It is important to not ignore these feelings or delay. Pushing these feelings aside will lead to ravenous hunger and overeating.
Be Aware and Present When Eating
Begin by sitting down. Eating while standing, driving, or walking around can prevent you from truly enjoying your food. With each bite, savor the taste and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Are you enjoying it? Is it not really as tasty as it looked? If you aren’t feeling satisfied by it, stop eating and find something else that you will enjoy more!
Exert No Guilt or Judgement
Exerting judgment or feeling guilty while eating will decrease your level of satisfaction and prevent you from truly eating mindfully. Do not choose certain foods based on whether it seems like the “better” choice. Choose foods that are nourishing, but also appealing to your taste preferences.
Mindful eating uses the practice of mindfulness to develop healthy, intuitive eating habits. Mindful eating has numerous health benefits, including sustainable weight loss and improved self-confidence.
To practice mindful eating, you will need to start with the basics:
- Limit distractions
- Eat slowly, spend at least 20 minutes at meals
- Engage your senses (taste, smell, texture, sight)
- Eat when you are hungry, stop eating when you are full
- Be aware and present when you eat
- Eat without guilt or judgment
Pacer offers lessons and tools for practicing mindful eating. If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.
8 steps to mindful eating. Harvard Health. (2016, January 16)
Albers, S. (2020). Mindful eating handouts. Eating Mindfully.
Tribole, E., & Huber, H. (2021). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. Blackstone Publishing.
Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum : a publication of the American Diabetes Association, 30(3), 171–174. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0015