Mind. Body. Spirit.
Mindful Eating and Weight Loss: How Mindfulness Helps You Make Healthier Choices
Blog By: Mind, Mouth and Movement: Connecting the Missing Links
By Nancy Lum, RDN and Dawn O’Meally LCSW-C, P.A.
Mindful eating is a practice that involves paying attention to your food, savoring each bite, and being aware of your thoughts and feelings while eating. It involves being grateful for your food. Thinking about where the food came from and the processes that the food went through to get to your table. It is a powerful tool that can help people achieve their weight loss goals by developing a healthier relationship with food and making better choices about what they eat. But how does mindfulness from a psychological perspective assist a person in weight loss?
In psychology, mindfulness is defined as the practice of being present at the moment and focusing on one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. We need to slow down and enjoy the moment. Mindfulness is a skill that can be developed with practice and has been shown to have many benefits for physical and mental health, including weight loss. By being more mindful, people can better tune in to their body’s hunger and fullness cues, making it easier to stop eating when they are satisfied and avoid overeating. Eating for at least 20 minutes allows the hormone Leptin to signal your brain that you are satisfied and full. Eating too fast will interrupt this signal.
So, how can you get started with mindful eating? Here are some tips.
- Slow down: Try putting your fork and/or spoon down between bites or taking a few deep breaths before starting your meal. Try using child-size utensils or chopsticks as this will significantly decrease the amount of food going into your mouth at a time.
- Pay attention: Engage all of your senses when you eat. Focus on the taste, texture, and smell of your food. Try to savor each bite and notice the sensations in your mouth.
- Listen to your body: Check in with yourself throughout the meal to see how full you are. Stop eating when you’re satisfied, even if there is food left on your plate.
- Eliminate distractions: Turn off the TV and put away your phone while you eat. By eliminating distractions, you can focus on your food and the experience of eating.
- Make eating a special time: Use your favorite plates and sit in a favorite quiet spot to engage in the eating process. Make the place you eat a calming atmosphere.
- Practice mindfulness outside of mealtimes: Meditation and other mindfulness exercises can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. This can help you make better choices about what you eat and avoid emotional eating.
- Track your progress: Keep a log of your emotions and thoughts around mealtimes to create an awareness of your relationship with food.
In addition to mindful eating, there are other tips you can utilize for improving mindfulness:
- Practice meditation: Meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and increasing mindfulness. Start with just a few minutes daily and work up to longer sessions.
- Take breaks: Take a few minutes throughout the day to check in with yourself and focus on your thoughts and feelings. This can help you stay centered and focused.
- Connect with nature: Spending time in nature has been shown to have many benefits for mental health, including increased mindfulness. Take a walk outside and focus on your surroundings. Try forest bathing (check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wHq6yY2CI).
Remember, mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, so be patient and kind to yourself as you start to make changes. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and increase your mindfulness, both of which can lead to better physical and mental health.