Mindful Eating – A Simplified Guide

binge eating + dieting + emotional eating + food and mood + intuitive eating + mindful eating

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget to savour life’s simple pleasures, like relishing a homemade stir-fry or indulging in an ice-cream sandwich. Research shows that adopting mindful eating habits can reduce binge eating and emotional eating while helping you connect with your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
On the flip side, mindless eating is linked to overeating and increased stress and anxiety.
person holding food with blog title

Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating: What’s the Difference?

Mindful eating and intuitive eating are often confused, but they have their distinctions.

Mindful eating vs Intuitive Eating and the differences

How Mindful Eating Can Help with Binge Eating and Overeating

Binge eating and overeating may seem similar, but they’re distinct. Mindful eating can assist with both.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED):
BED involves consuming excessive amounts of food during episodes, often characterised by distress. Mindfulness can help those who use food to cope with stress and anxiety.

While overeating occasionally is normal, consistent overeating can lead to weight gain. Mindful eating slows down meal consumption, reducing the likelihood of overindulging.

Mindful Eating and Weight Loss: A Simple Approach

Losing weight can be a challenge, especially when many diets ultimately prove ineffective over time.

Did you know that people tend to regain about 80% of lost weight after 5 years? It’s a common struggle .

Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity.

Emotional eating, stress, and cravings can lead to weight gain after successful weight loss. Stress, in particular, plays a significant role.

But here’s the good news: Mindful eating can help you lose weight by changing your eating habits and reducing stress.

Surprisingly, it’s just as effective for weight loss as traditional diets.

In a study, women who practised mindful eating for 12 weeks lost an average of approximately 1.9 kilograms (4.2 pounds) and felt more self-aware and self-accepting.

By changing how you think about food and addressing unwanted eating behaviours, you can improve self-control and increase your chances of long-term weight loss success.

So, if you’re looking for a simple approach to weight loss, mindful eating might be the key!

4 Simple Steps to Start Mindful Eating

Person writing in their journal about what they could be eating

Step 1: Understand Your Hunger and Current Eating Habits

  • Keep a food journal for at least two weeks, noting:
    • Meal/snack times
    • Food choices and portion estimates
    • Eating locations and activities
    • Hunger levels before and after eating
    • Recognize patterns, like eating when bored or waiting until you’re very hungry to start.
  • Recognize patterns, like eating when bored or waiting until you’re very hungry to start.

Step 2: Use the Hunger Scale

Eat when your hunger is at a level 3 or 4 on the hunger scale, checking in with your hunger throughout the day. Aim to stop at level 5 or 6, feeling satisfied but not stuffed. Eventually, you’ll learn to recognize your hunger cues without the scale.

Step 3: Be Present with Your Food

Eliminate distractions, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and create a stress-free dining environment. Savour the sensory aspects of your meal.

Step 4: Choose Well-Balanced Meals

Ensure your meals contain carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, fibre, and are emotionally satisfying. Eating nutritious, balanced meals is essential for appetite regulation.

In Summary

Mindful eating offers a set of practices to reconnect with your body’s hunger cues and the joy of eating. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and overeating, making it a positive choice for many. However, as a weight loss tool, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. While anecdotal success stories exist, the research on its effectiveness for weight loss is mixed.

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Tryphena Ballantyne