Overcome Barriers To Mindful Eating

Overcome Barriers To Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a powerful tool that can change your life forever. Mindful eating will allow you to lose weight successfully, feel good in your body, and establish a healthier relationship with food.

Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles that can get in the way of your mindful eating journey.

Let’s discuss some of these barriers and how we can break through them. 

Diminished Hunger and Fullness Cues

After several years of dieting, it is possible for hunger and fullness cues to silence themselves.  This disconnection can reap havoc on your ability to maintain a proper weight or lose weight!

Hunger Cues

The body gets so used to having hunger cues ignored, that in order to compensate, the metabolism slows down.

Decreased metabolism leads to:

  • Weight gain
  • Diminished hunger cues
  • Uncontrolled insulin and lipid levels
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

depressed woman staring out the window on a rainy day

Fullness Cues

Feelings of fullness are also often diminished from long-term dieting behaviors.

When dieting, the portion sizes of meals are not in tune with what the body really needs. The dieter will eat amounts based on what the rules of the diet are (either large or small). And, because of future deprivation, the dieter will lick every last crumb off that plate! Regardless if they already feel full.

After many years of this behavior, satiety cues silence themselves. 

Diminished satiety/fullness cues lead to:

  • Larger portion sizes
  • Decreased satisfaction with food
  • Weight gain
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Binge-eating and overeating

completed meals on plates from eating at a restaurant

Reconnecting With Hunger and Fullness

If you are someone who finds it difficult to determine your hunger and fullness levels – do not worry! There are ways to get these signals back.

Try these simple steps:

  • Become aware of your body. Notice what feelings you do have. Are you tired? Are you full of energy? Log all these feelings and cues in your food journal.
  • If you do feel hungry, don’t ignore it! Eat when hunger arises.
  • As you eat the meal, check in and log how you feel as you eat 25% of the meal, 50%, 75%, and once the meal is completed. What changes did you notice along the way? Using the hunger/fullness scale can help you here!
  • If you rarely find yourself hungry, start by giving your body food (meals or snacks) every 3-5 hours. Getting on a consistent feeding schedule can help rev up that metabolism and get those hunger cues back in action!

African american woman reading a journal with a cup of coffee

Please remember that getting these cues back can take time! It takes years to lose them, so gaining them back is not an overnight process. The more you practice awareness of your body and pay close attention to hunger and fullness, the more successful you will be.

Food Pushers

Food pushers are those people who continue to “push” food onto you, even though you may have already stated how full you are.

An example of food pushing is the following:

You are at your friend’s home for a dinner party. You just finished a delicious meal and have now been offered dessert. However, you realize you had not saved enough room for dessert! The cake smells delicious and you don’t want to be rude – but you know that if you eat that cake, you will feel uncomfortably stuffed.

The host offers you a piece of the cake and you politely refuse, saying how full you are from the scrumptious dinner. But, the host continues to make you feel bad, pushing you to just try a piece and that they worked so hard baking it.

dinner party and the hostess is serving treats for eating

Responding To Food Pushers

These types of situations can be stressful! How do you honor your fullness level when there is someone else making you feel about it?

You really do want to try a piece of cake, but you know how terrible it feels when you eat past the point of comfortable fullness and the guilty feelings that accompany it. 

1. Just say no.

Being firm and clear in your response can help the food pusher to “back off.” Try changing the subject and keep the conversation lighthearted.

2. Affirm and express gratitude

Provide a compliment about the food. Saying something like, “Wow the cake smells incredible!” or “Please send me the recipe!” will keep the host from being offended about trying a bite right then and there.

3. Not now, but later

You can always offer to take the food home. You can say how you really want to try it and would like to bring a piece of cake home to have for dessert later or the next day. Offer to help pack up the food and reassure them that it won’t be going to waste!

External Triggers for Eating

Diet Culture and the media can have a negative effect on your journey to becoming a mindful eater – but, only if you let it!

Watch out for the following negative influences:

  • Commercials about a new weight loss diet
  • An ad about a new fat burning supplement
  • Social media influences that promote body shaming
  • Peers or family commenting on your eating habits

cartoon of child seeing tempting foods on television for eating

After completing all of the lessons in the mindful eating chapters, you are well aware of the benefits of mindful eating and the harm that fad diets cause.

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Becky, A. (2021, February 11). 3 ways to kindly respond to food pushers. So Very Blessed.

Cara Harbstreet. (2021, January 25). Intuitive eating FAQ: How to deal with cravings. Street Smart Nutrition.

Colleen, Peake, D., Cindy, Fellows, R., Eline, Sam, & Liliane. (2021, April 26). How to get hunger cues in 3 easy steps. Colleen Christensen Nutrition.

Monica Smith, M. S. U. E. (2018, September 25). Reconnect with your hunger cues. MSU Extension.

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