Get In Touch
Being on a diet can be quite difficult because we don’t like the feeling of being restricted or restrained from our favorite foods for a prolonged time. Do we have to refrain from our favorite foods when we’re trying to lose weight?
Well not necessarily, we have been led to believe that we can’t and should not eat certain foods when we want to lose weight, but weight loss can still occur if we portion-reduce those foods. The issue now is feeling satisfied with smaller portions.
Is there a strategy to help you lose weight without restrictive eating and still feel satisfied with reduced portions of food? The answer is yes there is! Research shows that mindful eating can indeed lead to weight loss.
I’m going to cover the topic of mindfulness, which greatly contributed to helping me achieve my weight loss goal and helped me form healthier eating habits.
This topic goes further than just weight loss, it has a lot of psychological and emotional benefits but I’m focusing more on its major impacts on weight loss.
Let’s get into it!
Mindful eating is the process of paying close attention when eating. It means being focused and present with your food. It can also extend to the process of buying, preparing, and serving your food.
When you truly start paying attention to the food you eat, understanding what these foods contain and how it makes you feel, you may start to indulge in unhealthy foods less often.
In our current environment where there’s so much distraction around us, being completely present in one thing at a time is becoming increasingly difficult, while mindful eating isn’t for everyone, it is a habit to incorporate if you want to stick to your diet and maintain a healthy weight.
Originally, mindful eating isn’t done with a specific goal in mind, the goal of mindful eating isn’t to try to lose or gain weight, it isn’t about establishing strict rules about how many calories you eat or which foods you can consume, it’s not about being perfect or not allowing yourself to eat on-the-go again.
Rather it’s about focusing your senses and being present when you shop for food, cook, and eat your meals.
When I started my diet, I knew I had to pay close attention to what I was eating, although mindful eating isn’t mainly practiced with a specific goal in mind, incorporating some elements of it helped me notice just how many calories and volume were in the everyday foods that I would consume and think nothing of it.
Some of the benefits that I noticed, and I trust you will too include.
When we start eating at a more focused pace, we eat less, and our brain has enough time to alert us that we’re getting full. This ends up reducing the amount of food that we consume on average and can help with weight loss.
When you start eating mindfully, you might figure out that you didn’t need to eat as much to get full as you used to.
Mindful eating can also be beneficial when you want to feel more satiated on little rations, by slowing down your pace while eating and reducing distractions, you end up feeling fuller due to your mind having enough time to register and send back signals of satiation also known ghrelin.
Mindful eating can help you to notice when you turn to food for reasons other than hunger. We tend to indulge for various reasons other than just hunger—to satisfy emotional needs or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, and boredom.
When you can differentiate between real hunger and emotional eating, it drastically reduces unhealthy eating and the amount of food you consume.
It is a process that can change your perception of food. When you start paying attention to what you consume, how you consume it, and how it makes you feel, it reduces your cravings because you start to understand what those foods do to your body, this can lead you to start making healthier food choices like choosing higher volume low-calorie foods rather than high calorie processed foods, opting for a fruit salad rather than a donut.
Focusing on your food and being present when eating leads you to get fuller quicker, thereby reducing the volume of food you would normally consume which leads to a significant reduction in overeating.
Mindless eating is the more traditional approach to eating that we have all been doing most of our lives. It is the act of eating without reason, eating anything we want, eating based on our emotions and feelings, and eating at a fast pace while simultaneously doing other activities.
It is the polar opposite of mindful eating as we don’t pay attention to what the foods we eat contain and how eating them makes us feel, traits research suggests lead to obesity.
Have you ever sat down to have a meal and after a few minutes, look down and wonder “What?? Where did all the food go?” well news flash, it went directly into your mouth. This is a major issue with mindless eating, when we eat without focus and presence, we often end up having to eat way more than we need to as our mind does not get the focus it needs to send us fullness signals quicker.
Eating mindlessly is also the act of eating based on satisfying emotional needs. When you’re feeling stressed and decide to get a pack of glazed donuts even though you know you just had lunch an hour ago, when you receive bad news that makes you feel sad, and you decide to compensate by binge eating. These are some examples that lead to mindless eating due to satisfying current emotions.
Let’s take a look at some differences and what you can start doing to make the switch from mindless to mindful eating.
Eating at a fast on-the-go pace.
Eat at a slower and more present pace.
Eating to satisfy emotional needs (sadness, boredom, stress).
Eating only to satisfy real hunger signals.
Eating junk or highly processed foods.
Eating more whole foods and healthier snacks.
Eating as much as you can till you feel satiated.
Focused eating to pay attention to fullness cues.
Eating while multitasking (watching TV, playing a game, etc.).
Focusing all your attention on your food.
The differences between mindless eating and mindful eating are apparent, and it shows exactly why one leads to overeating and weight gain while the other reduces and controls it.
As stated earlier, eating mindfully does not have to come with strict rules and guidelines for every meal, it does however come with certain elements and steps. Here are some effective mindful eating strategies I followed to increase my mindfulness.
This is the first step towards the process, when you go out shopping for food items, check the nutritional information to know exactly what you’re eating especially for sauces, salad creams, cereal, biscuits, drinks, etc.
You don’t have to check all the ingredients, I majorly look out for the calorie value, make sure you’re getting food items with moderate calories, or if you want something higher in calories, then you have to portion reduce.
This has to do with our visual perception of things, this can connect to when you serve a decent amount of food on a big plate and there’s still space left, we tend to feel that the food is smaller than it appears or that we’re not consuming that much. Opt for a smaller plate that you can somewhat fill at a reduced portion.
Take a moment to observe what is on your plate, and mentally prepare your mind to focus.
It’s tempting to want to watch your favorite show or scroll on social media, but trust me, it’ll greatly help if you want to feel more satisfied on smaller portions.
Take a bite, and chew it for a bit, drop your spoon occasionally to savor your food, allow yourself to feel the sensation in your mouth, and give your mind time to register food intake.
This isn’t necessarily a part of mindful eating, but it helps a ton when you want to feel more satiated from a meal. Drinking water with meals enables you to take pauses between bites, giving your mind more time to give you fullness signals.
At this point, you should start to watch out for cues and signals, are you starting to feel satisfied?
When you start eating mindfully with smaller portions, you might not get the fullness signal immediately after the meal, but you’ll definitely feel satisfied for hours.
These are some guidelines to help ensure you get the most value for your meals. It wouldn’t be realistic to always do this with every meal, you might eat out sometimes or just want to watch a movie while eating and that’s fine, I certainly do not eat fully mindfully on every meal, mostly when I want to feel more full from a small meal.
If you follow these guidelines when shopping for food items and while eating, even without going on an official diet, it is almost guaranteed to help you lose some weight.
Mindful eating is the process of paying close attention when shopping, cooking, serving, and eating your meals, focusing only on your food while eating gives your mind enough time to give you fullness signals, leading you to get full quicker on smaller portions which can help reduce overeating.
Eating mindfully can help reduce body weight, the nature of its principles does not allow binging or eating in response to emotions, rather it promotes awareness of the food you eat, Improves the overall experience of eating, and helps in managing your eating habits.
Following the guides will ensure you get the most value for your meals, mindful eating can be used to fix your relationship with food, to understand how different foods impact your body and how they make you feel, it can also be used to help you stick to your diet much easier.