5 Ways Mindful Eating Can Help You Lose Weight

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5 Ways Mindful Eating Can Help You Lose Weight

Snacking while cooking dinner, eating while writing emails, munching on the drive to work. Multitasking might save time, but when it comes to eating there is also a cost: distraction.

Multitasking while eating makes it challenging to be mindful. Ever sat in front of the TV with a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream and magically, the food vanishes before your eyes and you wonder what that last bite tasted like? Or maybe you find yourself at 10PM with calories remaining for the day so you go for the cookies, despite still feeling full from dinner. Whether eating is a result of physical or emotional distraction, both have the same end result: mindless eating.

Mindful eating is being aware of the taste, texture, aroma, presentation, and your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Getting to know your hunger and fullness is the secret to losing the weight for good and keeping it off.

1. EAT WITH BALANCE

Eating a variety of foods at each meal not only provides balanced nutrition, it can also help with meal satisfaction. Make sure that your plate has 3 foods: Fiber, Fat, and Protein. These three ingredients take the longest to break down causing a slower release of energy and keeping you fuller for longer. Find fibers through fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Opt for healthy fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and olive oils. Get protein from a variety of sources including meat, fish, poultry, tofu, tempeh, beans, and nuts.

READ MORE > 9 WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT THAT AREN’T JUST DIET AND EXERCISE

2. TIME YOUR MEALS

If you’ve been dieting or eating sporadically for some time, it’s time to recalibrate your hunger and fullness meter. Many people say that when they begin mindful eating that they don’t really feel hungry or full; that’s likely because your hunger and fullness meter is off. Begin to get back on track by eating food in regular intervals, about every 4 hours or so–paying close attention to portion size. This is enough time for your body to recognize the swings in energy levels without getting overly hungry. Keep in mind if you still are not hungry after 4-5 hours of eating, you might have eaten a bit too much at that last meal. Not to worry though! Simply wait until your body tells you it needs more fuel in the tank before eating again. Check out this article to dive deeper into understanding and listening to your hunger cues.

3. BE PRESENT

It can’t be overstated that to become a mindful eater, the mind and body must be present with the plate. Eat with intention, turn off the TV and shut down the computer while dining at the table. Distracted eating is a major contributor to unintentional overeating. Focusing on your meal or snack will not only lead to greater enjoyment of whatever you’re eating but a greater awareness of your hunger and satiety cues.

4. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Becoming aware of the body’s internal cues to hunger and fullness will keep blood sugar stable and increase energy levels. Mindful eating requires trusting the body to know “how much” food is needed and when to stop. When you sit down to a meal ask yourself, “How hungry am I”, and give it a number from 1 to 10 with 1 being starving and 10 being stuffed. We tend to eat with our eyes over our stomachs; mindful eating is a turn from that norm. Even though mindful eating is a skill we were born with and have lost along the way, it will take some time to relearn. Instead of eating on autopilot and cleaning your plate out of habit, challenge yourself to put the fork down when you are actually satisfied (6-7) vs. stuffed (8-9). Remember to not let your body get overly hungry and eat when you feel a gentle hunger (3).

5. ACCEPT THE HERE AND NOW

So you want to make changes to your body composition and/or lose some weight, first start with loving your body just the way it is. If you find that you cannot accept yourself as you are, this is the first place to start on your mindful eating journey. The confidence that you find from within will keep you grounded and able to trust your body enough to be a mindful eater.

Mindful eating takes guts and can be scary, but on the other side there is freedom from the diet trap. Consider weight loss and improved body composition as a side effect of eating mindfully, instead of the end goal. For some this step can be achieved by finding an activity that you truly enjoy, cleaning out the closet and buying clothes that fit and look fabulous on you, or tossing the scale if it’s defining your self worth every time you step on it.

Lastly, remember to be patient with yourself as you begin eating mindfully. You might not feel good at it at first, but like with anything practice is key. Keep focused on your true goals and weight loss will be a side effect of your new healthful relationship with food.

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  • Jeannette –

    My old boss should read this. She would insist that “everyone” should eat their lunch at their desks. Glad I don’t work there anymore!

    • patricia.green.92

      I was without work for 6 months when my former Co-worker eventually suggested me to start freelancing online… It was really after I gained $5000 in my initial thirty days when I actually believed I am able to do this for a living! At the moment I am joyful than ever… I work at home moreover I am my own boss now like I always wanted… I see a number of depressed people around me, working the same old boring job that’s sucking the life from them day-after-day… Each time I see somebody similar to that I say START FREELANCING MAN! This is where I started out >>>> www­.­cat­.­org­.­uk/snip/93439

  • AuroraLucia2015

    Three letters: WOW. This article really hit home, and provided some great insight to many of the habits I’ve unknowingly adopted over the past year, or longer! Thank you!

  • Ayana

    Thank you! I am working on having a healthier relationship with food. This was a really good article.

  • MissPearl

    GreatGreat

  • MissPearl

    wrote this down and will practice this. I’ve found my outlet to better health and fitness.thank you!

  • Guest

    Mindless eating is my biggest obstacle…
    Thank you for the Very Helpful direction!
    See you in P&I

  • Hapster

    Yup, yup, yup… if you don’t log everything that passes your lips, it can get so away from you so quickly…. (hapster22 on MyFitnessPal)

  • miss mlc

    After a lifetime of dieting, binging, abject failure and misery, I learned about mindful eating about 6 years ago. It’s really taking a long time to implement, but lately I have absolutely enjoyed it. My new motto is “hunger is the best sauce”. I don’t remember who I stole that from, but it’s been really helpful for me. I can really slow down and enjoy my food, make choices that aren’t junk and I’m actually enjoying eating again which I had not done for decades. Mindful eating is my key to success. The book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh has been a great source of connection to appetite, world food & hunger.

  • ChristiAnn

    Logging everything I eat has made me more mindful of eating. Although I still snack while making dinner, I only snack on the veggies that I’m cutting up for dinner. This being the first time I have really dieted, I find that I’m not as hungry as I was before I started, and I don’t have cravings. I don’t rate my hunger, but I have found I enjoy food more when I take the time to plan it out and prepare it, instead of grabbing whatever is most cconvenient at the time.

  • NeeCee

    Go figure I was doing something right logging, making sure I was hungry, portion control and eating healthy. I thought I was just determined to succeed. I have a goal and no one else did. I am still losing where they all have lost out being healthier.

  • Frances O’Connor

    I needed that last article. I have had a hard time lately with grazing. I have lost over 40 lbs and have hit s plateau it seems but have been not counting & posting every meal on my food diary. I think taking control is what I need. Iwill be mindful about pteparing meals.

  • Great post, thanks! I wish MyFitnessPal included more support for mindful eating instead of forcing us down the path of calorie counting. (Don’t get me wrong, I love how much MyFitnessPal supported me dropping a lot of fat, but I want it to keep being useful as I learn even more about healthy and mindful eating.)

    It’d be wonderful to include what time I eat and how long I take to eat each meal, as well as to record a 1-10 for how hungry I am before the meal and a 1-10 for how full I am after. These seem like super simple additions that would help a lot of folks.

    Hand in hand with that, I’d also love an optional mode where I could free form enter food notes (without worrying about exact portions and ingredients) because when I cook more and eat more whole foods its a hassle otherwise. Ironically, if you eat more mindfully with fewer processed foods, MyFitnessPal gets harder to use!

    • Lulu Lockwood

      WOW! I couldn’t have said it better
      myself. I find that if i’m home cooking healthy meals, it’s very
      difficult to enter EVERY single ingredient into MyFitnessPal, but super simple
      to scan the barcode on something processed. I’ve been meal prepping and
      packing them in small portion containers, and just grabbing one as i’m
      hungry. It’s working out great so far. Planning meals out helps me
      the most with weight loss and mindful eating

    • Anne Mason

      Hi Dale. I hear you! I’ve been a member of MFP since 8/14. I wonder if the paid program offers more options (maybe some that you mentioned). Don’t know ’cause I can’t afford to pay to log food. Here’s hoping MFP will get more interactive features for ALL MFPers. Peace.

  • Amor

    Thank you for this information. I look forward to sharing it with my kids & hubby to get them started on mindful eating and forming good eating habits.

  • My best friend has kept a Food/Mood log for over 7 years. She can not only look back and track her emotional turbulence but how her emotions affected her appetite and food choices. It is a habit for her now to log her mood before she takes a bite. Xanadu has Four historical binders thick full of emotional mindful eating habits.

  • caz1310

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read which encourages a connection between the change in thinking/ common-sense awareness of one’s relationship with eating and food selection. I’ve lost 15kg by initially MFP and consciously asking myself “should I be eating this/what is a better alternative?”. My daughter’s eating/weight is now far healthier too. Totally agree with other bloggers about calorie counting not being the only key for weight loss.

  • Lenny

    Really helpful stuff thanks

  • Tim

    Great article, however, for me I also need to include some type of regular exercise. Even the smallest amount, say 20 min. or so. Its the combination of the two that make me feel so much better with my weight and myself. As you said, your daily attitude cannot be based on what the scale say’s each morning. I have lost 15 lbs in 3 months and I still eat well. Just better food using the “how hungry am I” 1-10 scale! Not the bathroom scale.

    • Rita Stafford-Bones

      I like the how Hungry am I and mindful eating has helped keep a healthy weight and balancing my food with 2 thirds alkaline and 1 third acidic foods Has removed health issues I had

  • piercedheart

    The hardest thing for us at the end of a long day is to sit at the table and eat. I know that sounds crazy – but all we want to do is flump out in front of the tv, eat dinner together, and catch up on the day and some email (I know, double whammy). We have a beautiful new kitchen – my husband and I really need to get out of the living room at dinner and use it!! Thank you for the kick in the pants!! 🙂

  • Lala

    All of this is in Dr.Phill’s book
    The 20/20 diet it’s worth the buy.

  • Oscar Mayer Fortner

    I am disabled and don’t do a lot of exercising I need in re guard to loosing weight. After reading the article I realize I can work on mindful eating, better.