Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
The focus of when, why and how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Eating mindfully is the practice of consuming your food with attention and intention. Being in the moment as you eat by eliminating external distractions (e.g., text messages, newspapers or TV) allows you to be more aware of your body’s signals. Having the intention of nourishing your body means eating with a purpose — to satisfy your body’s fuel and nutrient needs in a pleasurable way.
Eating mindfully may help you control your weight!* Careful attention and responsiveness to your hunger and satiety is an excellent means of self-regulation and, therefore, portion control with all foods. Being in tune with your body should allow you to better manage cravings. Also, by being observant while you eat, you may eat less volume and calories in the first 15-20 minutes of a meal before your stomach signals to your brain that you are no longer hungry.
Part of eating mindfully is eating with an appreciation for each mouthful of food and savoring its tastes, aroma and texture instead of scarfing it down. The more time you spend evaluating the sensation of food in your mouth, the greater the opportunity is for acknowledging the pleasure it brings. Eating slowly by thoroughly chewing each bite allows you to fully explore the flavors in your food, thus better satisfying your taste buds so you don’t overeat.
How to eat mindfully
- Stop and take a few moments to notice how you physically feel before you even order or prepare your food. Sense how your mouth and stomach feel and try to distinguish the symptoms of thirst or hunger from other feelings.
- Next, put aside any bothersome or guilty thoughts you may have about food and any blame or worry associated with it. Acknowledge the value that food brings to your life beyond merely giving you energy and ending your hunger.
- Then, order or prepare the foods that you know from experience will make you feel better physically and give you vitality and lightness.
- After that, consume your meal slowly and take the time to chew each bite thoroughly.
Tip: Try alternating a sip of water with a forkful of food to help slow your pace.
- Finally, again sense your body and pay special attention to your belly. Stop eating when you are satisfied – not full.
By recognizing your hunger signals early and responding to them appropriately, you’ll avoid overeating and be on your way to consuming only what your body needs. Being mindful about what you eat increases your awareness, which in itself may also reduce your food intake.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.
Association between Mindfulness and Weight Status in a General Population from the NutriNet-Santé Study. GM Camilleri et al. Public Library of Science One. 2015 Jun 3; 10(6): e0127447.
Mindfulness and weight loss: a systematic review. Olson KL and Emery CF. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2015 Jan;77(1):59-67.
Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. AE Mason, et al. Appetite. 2016 Feb 8; 100:86-93.