Mindful eating is a technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits.
It has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and help you feel better.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is based on mindfulness, a Buddhist concept.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you recognize and cope with your emotions and physical sensations. It’s used to treat many conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and various food-related behaviors.
Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating.
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves:
These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
Why should you try mindful eating?
Today’s fast-paced society tempts people with an abundance of food choices.
On top of that, distractions have shifted attention away from the actual act of eating toward televisions, computers, and smartphones.
Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly. This can be problematic, since it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full.
If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much. This is very common in binge eating.
By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.
What’s more, by increasing your recognition of physical hunger and fullness cues, you are able to distinguish between emotional and true, physical hunger.
You also increase your awareness of triggers that make you want to eat, even though you’re not necessarily hungry. By knowing your triggers, you can create a space between them and your response, giving you the time and freedom to choose how to react.
Mindful eating and weight loss
It’s well known that most weight loss programs don’t work in the long term.
Around 85% of people with obesity who lose weight return to or exceed their initial weight within a few years.
Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, and eating in response to food cravings have been linked to weight gain and weight regain after successful weight loss.
Chronic exposure to stress may also play a large role in overeating and obesity.
The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by changing your eating behaviors and reducing stress.
Mindful eating and binge eating
Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time, mindlessly and without control. It has been linked to eating disorders and weight gain, and one study showed that almost 70% of people with binge eating disorder are obese.
Mindful eating may drastically reduce the severity and frequency of binge eating episodes.
Mindful eating and unhealthy eating behaviors
In addition to being an effective treatment for binge eating, mindful eating methods have also been shown to reduce:
Unhealthy eating behaviors like these are the most commonly reported behavioral problems in people with obesity. Mindful eating gives you the skills you need to deal with these impulses. It puts you in charge of your responses instead of at the whim of your instinct.
How to practice mindful eating
However, there are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits on their own:
Let your body catch up to your brain. Eating rapidly past full and ignoring your body’s signals vs. slowing down and eating and stopping when your body says it’s full. Slowing down is one of the best ways we can get our mind and body to communicate what we really need for nutrition. The body actually sends its satiation signal about 20 minutes after the brain, which is why we often unconsciously overeat. But, if we slow down, you can give your body a chance to catch up to your brain and hear the signals to eat the right amount.
To begin with, it’s a good idea to pick one meal per day to focus on these points.
Once you have the hang of it, mindfulness will become more natural. Then you can focus on implementing these habits into more meals.
The Chef | Enso Vegan Lifestyle Bar
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