In a busy world full of distractions, it’s all too easy to eat while occupying our minds with something else. Whether that’s a book, our mobile phone, work, or the TV, we often don’t pay close attention to what’s on our plates.
Mindful eating helps us to be more aware of what we’re eating, and how much. It can encourage you to eat healthier, reduce portion sizes, and enjoy your meals – rather than rushing them. Mindful eating has also been proven to help improve the results of a weight loss diet.
Before we get into mindful eating, it’s a good idea to first define mindfulness. Being mindful means being fully present in the moment, ‘aware of where we are and what we’re doing’. Understanding this idea shows us that mindful eating can really help with a weight loss diet. It makes us more aware of how we eat and think about our food.
When we try to lose weight, it becomes very easy to lose track of what we eat, and if we aren’t eating mindfully, we’re likely to eat more than we need. It’s also important to note that there’s a difference between being full physically and full mentally.
You may have heard the term ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach’. When we see food we enjoy, our brain wants more of it, even if it’s not in our best interest to eat it, or we’re already full. Luckily, mindful eating can make us more aware of these habits, improving weight loss results.
In a 2010 study carried out on obese adults over 6 weeks, after being taught mindful eating participants experienced a decrease in weight, stress, emotional overeating.
Emotional overeating happens when we’re dealing with stress. Our brain may use food as a way to release feel-good hormones that make us feel temporarily better, which can lead to eating disorders and food addictions.
Practical tips for mindful eating
Practising mindful eating takes time and it might help to attend a mindfulness class to gain a better understanding of it.
- Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
- Eating slowly
- Getting rid of distractions, such as the TV, or eating in silence
- Moticing when you feel full and stopping eating (even if you’ve not finished the food on your plate)
You can also ask yourself questions like: “Will this food nourish me?” or “Why am I eating?” as we often eat out of habit or boredom, rather than because we need to.
You can also use meditation during mindful eating, such as:
- Following a gratitude meditation while cooking to appreciate the food you’re making
- Meditating before eating, looking at how your food looks, smells, or even feels
- Meditating during your meal, checking in on your emotions, practising thankfulness, and being present for each bite
Using a meditation app can also be useful, as it often includes guided sessions.
Mindful eating and diet plans
Mindful eating can complement structured diet plans, as you’re focusing on how the food makes you feel. It brings a sense of presence to each meal and makes you notice how you can still feel full from eating less, as you’re taking your time with your food and truly enjoying the process.
This is a much better relationship to have with food while following a weight loss diet, as you’re more appreciative of the meals you have – rather than focusing on what you might be restricting or cutting down on. It also becomes easier to spot habits such as overeating, eating when you don’t need to, and snacking.
If you’re following a certain regime, particularly one used in weight loss treatments like Wegovy, you’ll gain a clearer understanding of your dietary choices and how to maintain nutritious meals.
You’ll soon spot the difference both physically and emotionally between eating a well-balanced meal compared to eating those high in fat and sugar. As you also need to stay well hydrated while taking the Wegovy diet plan, being mindful helps you spot when you’re feeling thirsty rather than hungry.
Overcoming weight loss plateaus with mindfulness
Weight loss plateaus are one of the most common difficulties when trying to lose weight. Everyone will experience at least one weight loss plateau in their journey, which happens when you stop losing weight or stop losing it as quickly.
Rapid weight loss is inevitable in the first few weeks, especially if you’ve transformed your lifestyle. This is where mindful eating comes in. It can be all too easy to give up when you’re not seeing results on the scales, but being mindful helps you to see and feel how your weight loss diet has affected you in other ways.
You might notice you’ve got more energy, or you’re more excited to eat your healthy, nutritious meals. You may feel happier and less stressed, as you’re not overeating, snacking regularly, or using food as a way to feel better emotionally. You may even notice that you’re less bloated after meals and feel more confident in your body.
This can help you to keep going with your weight loss diet, even when you’re going through a weight loss plateau.
Some people swear by mindful eating as a way to lose weight. The only way to know if it’ll work for you is by giving it a go.
This study was carried out on women who eat out at least 3 times a week. Participants attended two-hour mindful eating classes every week for 6 weeks. The women who were taught and followed mindful eating practices and meditation:
- Lost more weight
- Had a lower daily calorie and fat intake
- Followed their weight loss diet plans better
- Found it easier to eat less and choose healthier options when eating out
Mindful eating can make you more aware of how much you eat, what kind of food you eat, and when you’re emotionally eating or eating while full. This makes it easier to spot poor eating habits, reduce calorie intake, improve your relationship with food, and successfully follow a weight loss diet.
Mindful eating isn’t a quick fix and will take time to incorporate into your life. It’s important to take a holistic approach to weight loss, including changing your diet, exercising regularly, and being mindful.
David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.