Why You Should Try Mindful Eating, and How to Practice It

Why You Should Try Mindful Eating, and How to Practice It
Natalie Stein

In this article:

  • Mindful eating is being aware of what you eat. It involves noticing the tastes, textures, appearances, and smells of the foods you eat.
  • Mindful eating may be a tool to help you lose weight and choose healthier foods. It may help lower health risks. 
  • It is easy to practice mindful eating. You can focus on eating slowly, enjoying your food, and focusing on it.
  • Lark supports mindful eating as one strategy for weight loss and health. Lark can fit into your lifestyle for long-term health and weight loss. 

What if you knew something that could get you more weight loss bang for your effort buck? And what if that something were easy to do, did not require you to change your lifestyle, and did not even ask you to limit what you ate?

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If that sounds good to you, mindful eating may be worth trying. Harvard School of Public Health says that mindful eating is not a weight loss or health program on its own. But practicing mindfulness while you make healthy lifestyle choices may help you reach your goals more easily. These are the basics of mindful eating, research on possible effects, and how to work on it.

What Mindful Eating Is and Is Not

A research study in Journal of Technology in Behavioral Sciences say that “mindfulness involves focusing one’s attention on the present moment on purpose, while taking a nonjudgemental stance.” 

You might:

  • Appreciate flavors and other aspects of food.
  • Be grateful for food.
  • Notice how food affects energy and mood.
  • Avoid judging yourself on what you are eating.
  • Train your mind to focus on food, and feelings such as hunger, fullness, and pleasure.

You do not need to change yourself to practice mindful eating. And mindful eating is not just for people who do yoga. Anyone can practice mindful eating without changing their entire lifestyles.

What Can Mindful Eating Do for You?

But how can mindful eating help you? It is certainly not a standalone weight loss program. But if you are already taking steps to eat healthier or lose weight, mindful eating may help. A review article in Current Obesity Reports says that mindful eating may lead to these or other behaviors that are linked to weight loss. 

  • Eating more slowly
  • Choosing healthier foods
  • Reducing guilt or shame when eating
  • Getting more pleasure from eating

How Can Mindful Eating Do All That?

This is one explanation for why mindfulness might improve weight loss or healthy food choices. Mindful eating includes training yourself to focus on a particular thing. In this case, you focus on flavors, scents, textures, and appearances of foods. You might also keep your brain focused on hunger, fullness, and gratitude. At the same time, you train yourself not to think about guilt, shame, or distractions. 

This discipline may serve you well when it comes to weight loss and healthier eating. You might be more likely to do these.

  • Think about the crunch, taste, and juiciness of a fresh apple and choose it instead of caving in at the sight of a cookie.
  • Stop to consider whether you are still hungry before serving yourself second helpings.
  • Eat more slowly, and eat less, as you get more pleasure from what you are eating.

Mindful eating can also affect stress. A review article in Integrative Medicine (Encinitas, California) says that eating mindfully can reduce stress. In turn, gut hormone levels can change in ways that are linked to better weight control and healthier metabolism.

Other Branches of Mindfulness

Mindfulness does not need to happen just at meals. Mindful eating is just one way to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being aware of, and present in, the moment. You might practice mindfulness with yoga, meditation, and exercise. 

But mindfulness can happen anywhere, whether standing, sitting, or moving. These are some tricks.

  • Notice and accept emotions that you may be feeling.
  • Notice and accept pain, discomfort, or comfort.
  • Think about being in this moment rather than about what you did or what you will do.

Practicing mindfulness away from the table can still lead to benefits related to eating. In research published in Obesity, a group of participants who were trained to practice mindfulness had a tendency to lose more weight, choose fewer sweets, and lower blood sugar compared to a group that was not asked to practice mindfulness.

Mindful Eating During COVID-19 

If you need more motivation to practice mindful eating, the COVID-19 pandemic might provide it. Weight gain is a risk during COVID-19, according to an article in Nature Reviews Endocrinology. People may be eating more while at home, and may be more stressed. Mindfulness may help reduce these effects.

How to Practice Mindful Eating

It is not hard to practice mindful eating. You may be able to see gains in just five minutes a day. In a study published in Journal of Technology in Behavioral Sciences, participants felt less stress and more connectivity practicing mindfulness for minutes a day.

Harvard Medical School has tips for practicing mindful eating.

  • Eat slowly. Take small bites and chew each bite thoroughly to release all of the flavors and textures.
  • Choose food carefully. Consider how it might affect how you feel before purchasing or ordering it, instead of letting impulse guide you.
  • Take smaller portions than normal. Wait a few minutes after finishing a helping before considering a second helping.
  • Be grateful for your food, how it got from the farm to the store to the kitchen to the table, and who may be at the table with you.
  • Taste, smell, see, and feel your food. That is, use your senses.

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Lark offers 24/7 coaching to help you meet your weight loss and health goals. The program helps you to make small behavior changes that fit into your lifestyle. These new habits can lead to lasting improvements.

You can see results without feeling deprived or giving up foods you love. Lark can help with features such as food logging, in-the-moment feedback, and tips for small changes. Lark can also help with mindfulness and mindful eating.

You may be eligible for Lark, at no cost to you, through your health insurance. Click here to find out and get started.

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