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How Mindful Eating Can Easily Help You Smash Your Weight Management Plans

How Mindful Eating Can Easily Help You Smash Your Weight Management Plans

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What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice whereby attention is purposefully paid to the present moment. This practice has the potential to positively affect many aspects of life such as sleep, physical and emotional wellbeing, eating behaviours, anxiety, depression and quality of life.

Some of you may have heard about intuitive eating, which in simple terms is listening out for your body’s hunger signals; but what about mindful eating? Have you ever heard about that and how it can help with your weight management?

We asked our dietician Ro, to explain to us what mindful eating is, how it can help and most importantly, how you can put it into practice.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is where some of the elements of mindfulness are applied to the practice of eating.

Eating is an integral part of our lives, we cannot survive without it. Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about eating, what we are going to choose to eat and what we should or shouldn’t be eating, but not many of us actually think about the physical action and the experience of eating itself; it is often done in a rush or alongside other tasks and could be described as ‘mind-less’.

The concept of mindful eating is to develop an awareness of the present moment when eating, paying close attention to the effect of food on the senses as well as noticing the effects that foods have on our overall health and emotional wellbeing in response to eating them.

Developing an understanding of true hunger and fullness cues is also an important part of the practice so that distinction can be made between hunger and non-hunger eating triggers.

Its purpose is to make us think about not just what we eat but how we eat, why we eat and how it makes us feel.

How to start being mindful when eating?

It is recommended to start off small by being mindful at one meal or when eating one snack a day and then to build up to using the practice more regularly.

  • When you eat, ask yourself why you are eating, this can help you tap into your eating triggers and recognise when you are eating for reasons other than physical hunger.  
  • Plan ahead and establish a regular eating pattern, this can have a positive impact of food choices and eating behaviours. 
  • Eat without distractions such as TV, radio, reading  or your phone so you can really engage with they physical act of eating
  • Take your time over eating, taking around 20 minutes to eat a full meal can allow your body time to recognise when it is full. Doing this can help you understand your physiological feelings of hunger and fullness.
  • Pay attention to the physical act of eating, hold (if appropriate) or look at the food you are about to eat, take time to see the food, touch it or smell it before putting it in your mouth.
  •  When food is in your mouth explore the sensations and tastes before chewing and swallowing
  • Take small bites and chew every bite well, put down cutlery between each mouthful 
  • Listen to your hunger cues and eat only until you are full
  • Practice recognising when you feel full or hungry by thinking about what it feels like in your body to feel hungry. When you eat, start with an amount of food you expect to make you feel comfortably full. Remember you can always eat more if you still feel hungry. 
  • Reflect on your thoughts and feelings when eating and how certain foods make you feel when eating and after eating them. 
  • Avoid labelling foods as good or bad 

At first, this may seem like a lot and being mindful at every meal or snack is not always possible. Experimenting a little every day can help you to become more familiar with the practice and learn more about yourself which can help you feel in control of your eating habits, improve emotional wellness and bring enjoyment from eating as well as helping you to control your weight.

As with most new things, it takes practice before you start to succeed and mindful eating is no different, so give yourself time. The great thing about it is that you’re learning how to enjoy food which is important to many of us. If you enjoy healthy food, then you won’t want or crave food that doesn’t align with your health goals. Go on, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose!


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