5 Clever Ways Mindfulness Can Aid With Weight Loss!
When it comes to losing weight, you keep hearing the same things over and over; “Eat clean!” or “Move more!” Sure, these are both things you should do for your general health. But have you heard about eating mindfully?
First, what does this mean, “eating mindfully?”
- Eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip
- Noticing when you’re starting to get full instead of eating everything that’s on your plate, out of habit
- Not obsessing about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be eating at every meal
With mindful eating, you purposefully pause to pay attention to the food and your hunger level. It is a small action, but when it comes to seeing your body weight number on the scale, it can make a huge difference to a lot of people. A recent review of almost 20 studies suggests there may be a connection between using mindfulness during mealtime and weight loss. The benefits of mindful eating can include greater enjoyment of the taste and decreased intake of junk food.
Still not sure how this all fits into your life? Here are five ways mindfulness can help.
1. It Can Help You Avoid Eating On Autopilot
If you’re one of the many people who multitask while eating, mindfulness is being lost. So instead of staring at your phone or the TV, or eating while you’re driving, only eat. This might feel strange at first, but it will help you pay attention to what your food tastes like, how it smells, the texture, and how you feel eating it. Food becomes more satisfying, and this method can help you realize when you’ve had enough and stop eating.
How to slow down and savor your food. The easiest way is to start in honoring your food and engage all of your senses in the act of choosing, preparing, and consuming the food. Attempt to engage each sense: sight, smell, touch, and taste when you’re selecting your food in the store, cooking your meals, and eating them. When you sit down to eat, notice how the food looks and smells. Take a bite and attempt to appreciate not only the taste, but also the texture of the food in your mouth.
After you’ve taken a bite, put down your fork (or spoon) as you chew so you can truly focus on the flavors you’re enjoying. Studies show that this simple act can help you consume less food in general. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that slower eaters ate 10% fewer calories and felt more full. People who ate slower also drank more water during their meals. Another study published in The British Medical Journal reported that eating quickly and eating until full was consistent with being overweight, and the combination of both of these habits tripled the risk of being overweight.
2. It Can Get Rid Of Your “Good” and “Bad” Food Mindset
One important part of mindful eating is not being judgmental about food. A grilled chicken salad or sweet potato may be fine sometimes. But other times, you may really want a burger and fries. When a craving strikes, you try to acknowledge it and weight the pros and cons of indulging in it.
This can be easier said than done, though, to contemplate the craving instead of immediately either giving into it or denying it. Try concentrating on breathing in and out, like you are meditating. This simple act of acknowledging that you want whatever it is you’re craving. Then ask yourself if you really need that food. This process allows your to think about what you’re about to do. A simple way to carry out this exercise is to inhale deeply and say to yourself, “I know I’m craving a cookie,” and exhaling slowly and saying, “And I am in control of my craving.” This is mindfulness practice, and it can make you more aware of your actions, so you hopefully stop automatically reaching for your craving.
3. It Can Take The Emotion Out Of Eating
When you stop looking at food in terms of “good” and “bad” you don’t feel guilty or mad at yourself when you decide to indulge in a treat. That can help you avoid feeling like you just blew it (and then decide to blow the rest of the day or week.) What’s more, you’re eating when you are actually hungry and not because you’re stressed, lonely, bored, or anxious.
Ryan Casada, a licensed mental health counselor from Orlando, Florida, works with clients who struggle with binge eating. She employs mindful eating training with her clients, and reports that, “They feel more equipped to be in the present moment and, over time, are less and less likely to binge because they begin to learn how to listen to their bodies and what their bodies need.”
By taking small bites and chewing thoroughly, you should eat slower, which can help you avoid overeating. If you’re not putting your fork or spoon down after every bite, try every third bite, just to make sure you’re slowing the pace of your eating.
4. It Can Help You Make Healthier Choices
You might think listening to your body means you’ll end up eating pizza and ice cream every night. But, because these foods are no longer “off-limits,” you might actually find you want them less. I know, you may find this hard to believe now, but when you give yourself permission to pick any food you want, most of the time, you’ll find what you really crave is something that leaves you feeling light and energized, not sluggish and weighed down.
5. It Can Help You Eat Less
Have you ever taking a second helping of dinner because it was just sitting there? Or, sat down to watch TV with a bag chips and finished them off? Afterward, you end up feeling stuffed! When you check in with your hunger instead of just eating whatever is on your plate, you’ll be satisfied with a more normal-sized portion. I know, we’ve been told all of our life’s to “clean your plate,” but when you eat more mindfully, you might find you’re content after eating just three-quarters of your dinner.
The Bottom Line
Eating mindfully is really pretty easy, and you can start now! Here are three questions to ask to gauge your current mindfulness level:
- Do you regularly eat while watching TV?
- Do you regularly eat while driving?
- Do you regularly eat at your desk as you work or browse the internet?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could be a sign that you could be eating more mindfully.