Did you know you can apply mindfulness to your eating habits? When you practice mindful eating, it can have a positive impact on your emotional and physical health, your relationship with food, and possibly, your weight. Here are a few reasons why practicing mindful eating is effective for weight loss:
1. You Are More in Tune With Your Body's Cues
It takes nearly 20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you are full. When you slow down and eat mindfully, you recognize when you feel satisfied and stop eating. You may consume fewer calories than if you hurried through your meal, possibly eating more than you need.
2. You're More Aware of Your Body's Hunger Signals
When you are hungry, you may experience physical signs of hunger, such as low energy, lightheadedness, headaches, and a growling stomach. You may also feel hungry as a result of emotional signals, such as feelings of sadness, frustration, loneliness, or boredom. It’s important to understand the relationship between hunger and emotions so you can be aware of these signals, understand why you are feeling hungry, and plan the best way to handle those signals.
3. It Encourages Good Meal Habits
Mindful eating helps you to plan for a healthy meal routine. This can mean sitting down at a table for your meals and focusing on enjoying your food instead of eating distracted in front of a screen. It could also mean eating from a smaller plate to help control portions or enjoying a meal with others, if possible. When you share a meal, you’ll pause from eating to participate in conversations, which will help you recognize those satiety signs your body is sending you.
4. You Will Understand What's Motivating You
Mindful eating helps you to recognize foods that are emotionally comforting versus foods that are more nutrient-dense. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, you may want to turn to food for comfort. This is because when stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Mindful eating makes you aware of that desire, and if you do decide to eat the food that feels comforting, you will use all of your senses to appreciate it and enjoy it fully. You will have the skills to deal with impulses and have more control over your food choices.
5. You Will Notice How Food Makes You Feel
When you mindfully make food choices, you will feel strong, empowered and in control. Food can physically make you feel more energetic and alert.
6. It Changes Your Relationship With Food
One of the biggest benefits of mindful eating is it removes the diet mentality of labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Food is just food, and your food choices are made after careful evaluation, control, and decision.
Weight loss may be a side-effect of mindful eating, but it is not the purpose of the practice. Those who practice mindful eating may gain an overall better understanding of how food fuels their bodies and impacts how they feel. Additionally, they are more aware of their food choices, have a more holistic relationship with food, and have developed supportive meal habits overtime.