January 20, 2022
Weight loss isn’t just what you eat – it’s how you eat it. Research evidence shows mindful eating can be helpful for weight loss, and it’s fun! With these simple ways to be more attentive of what you eat, you can easily make healthy changes in how much food you eat, and reach your health goals.
If you're struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone. Weight loss is frustrating in our diet culture, particularly with so many popular diets suggesting restrictive eating plans are the only solution. Your body is pretty good at knowing what it needs - have you heard it lately? It's hard with the many distractions we face, high levels of stress, and fast paced lifestyles.
Mindful eating is an effective strategy for weight loss, according to growing evidence, which includes results from a randomized trial in which researchers lead 80 adults from North Carolina through mindful eating programs and noted it led to weight loss.
Mindful eating makes healthy eating easier, suggests findings from a study published in the British Medical Journal Open. A small group of overweight or obese adults spent a few hours each week learning the theoretical aspects of mindful eating and had opportunities to practice them amongst the support of the clinical psychologists and nutritional experts. After this guidance to mindful eating, the adults were less likely to eat when feeling lonely or irritated and found it less difficult to resist foods that were not part of their healthy eating plan.
If you’re struggling to manage your body weight, and tend to eat your food quickly, you many benefit from slowing down, says research. Findings from a research study propose that people who eat faster are at higher risk for weight gain and obesity. Published in the journal, Clinical Obesity, the study suggests eating faster puts you at a higher risk of obesitydue to the delay in realization of fullness, compared to when you eat slowly. As you’re wolfing down your food, do you already have the next forkful waiting impatiently by your lips? That first mouthful still has a long way to go to before it will trigger the stretch receptors in your stomach that sense food. There’s a delay between when you swallow and when your brain gets the message you’ve eaten. As such, if you eat quickly, you may not get the signal that you are full before you’ve eaten more than your body needed. The average person takes 15 to 20 minutes to get a signal from their stomach. How many times recently have you taken 15 minutes to eat a meal?
If you’re looking for some creative ways to slow down how fast you eat here are some fun suggestions:
Obviously, the first two are not recommended if you are wearing nice clothes, or if you’re eating soup. (Oh, and perhaps when trying these fun options, have a few napkins handy.)
Avoiding distractions is the best way to be more mindful of how fast you are eating. Studies have found a wide variety of factors can distract you from eating mindfully: computer games, listening to a story, background music, or other electronic device. In fact, eating in competition with other tasks has been shown to increase food intake – about 15% more calories and higher consumption of fat. Put down the phone, and turn off screens.
Go on and take your food on a date it would love. It sounds silly, but thinking about your next meal as a chance to take your food on a date is a great way to focus on your food. Take your food somewhere you can sit down and relax together, look directly at eat other, giving each other your full attention, and enjoying some slow-paced moments together.
If you’re eating distracted, as you scarf down your food, you won’t be paying attention to the signals your body is trying to send you about what it needs. Put down your phone. Screens are a great distraction when we need to get away from our stressful lives, but they could be contributing to your struggle with weight loss. In a 2020 study, researchers reported that using smartphones when eating increases the number of calories consumed. Mindful eating is easier when you put down your smartphone, and slow down – after all, eating food is worth enjoying!
When you’re eating mindfully, at an unrushed pace, without distractions, you’ll find it much easier to enjoy the sensation of fullness, because you’ll be ready to hear those cues from your body. The human body is impressive and does a great job communicating with you about its needs and feelings – if you’re willing to slow down and tune in, the messages are loud and clear. Try eating your next meal in an undistracted environment, taking your time, and listening to your body’s hunger cues.
You may be incredibly impressed by how much enjoyment you can have when you eat mindfully.
Want to Read More?
Associations between number of siblings, birth order, eating rate and adiposity in children and adults. Clinical Obesity 2021 Jan 12; 11(3): e12438.
Using smartphones when eating increases caloric intake in young people: an overview of the literature. Front Psychol 2020; 11:587886.
A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 Jul; 100(1): 123-151.
Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness of eating. Am J Clin Nutr 2013 Apr; 97(4): 728-742.
Efficacy of a mindful-eating programme to reduce emotional eating in patients suffering from overweight or obesity in primary care settings: a cluster-randomised trial protocol. BMJ Open 2019; 9(11): e031327.
Are common measures of dietary restraint and disinhibited eating reliable and valid in obese persons? Appetite. 2015 Apr; 87():344-51.
Mindful eating and weight loss, results from a randomized trial. J Fam Med Comm Health 2018 June; 5(3): 1152.
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