3 min|Rhiannon Lockhart

Mindful Eating for Weight Loss

Nutrition, Mind Health, Cognitive Health

Stop for a minute. Have you had a moment to be mindful today? Have you taken a deep breath or looked at the colours of the leaves? Can you close your eyes and put your hand on your heart and feel it beat?

If you are on your weight loss journey, incorporating mindfulness can be a wonderful tool to use.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a tool that extends beyond eating. It is a practice often utilized to reduce stress and anxiety, cope better with illness, manage pain and promote more restful sleep. (1)(2)

At its core, mindfulness stems from historical Buddhist teachings. It made its way to the west in the 1970s through adapted Buddhist teachings around stress reduction. (3)

In our Western society, mindfulness practices can look different for anyone. Some may practice small moments of mindfulness through their day like getting outdoors or breathing, while others bucket out time through yoga or meditation. Mindfulness-based interventions are more formal and standardized tools that require training. However you may practice mindfulness, it can provide benefits for both your mental and physical health. (1)

Why does mindfulness work?

Modern technology allows us to see the effects of mindfulness on our brains (cool, right?)! Neuroimaging evidence suggests that practices like meditation, even in those new to mindfulness, can alter our brain structure.

Mindfulness for weight loss & binge eating

Mindfulness meditations have been investigated as tools to reduce binge eating episodes and improve success rates of weight loss. (4) In weight loss, using mindfulness and strategic mindfulness-based interventions, have been shown to be effective in managing caloric consumption and binge eating.

For many people, it is easy to end up in a binge cycle when we are not paying attention. This may look like distracted eating at work, eating in the car, skipping meals and needing to eat in a hurried fashion to fuel themselves.

By practicing mindfulness for weight loss, we replace automatic thoughts and behaviours with a more conscious approach.

Mindfulness practices to try at home:

  • Take 2-3 breaths before eating.

  • Step away from your computer, phone or television.

  • Look at your food! Take a few moments to take in the colours, smells, textures.

  • Chew your food! Be sure to chew your food more than 3-5 times before swallowing. While chewing, think about the taste and texture.

  • Slow down!

  • After a meal, note how it made you feel. Full, energized, tired, etc.

  • Note how you felt before a meal. Stressed? happy? content?

Mindfulness practices also mean noting any guilt or anxiety we experience around food. With any weight loss goal or dietary changes, many will feel anxious about consuming specific foods or food groups. It is important to acknowledge those feelings without trying to change anything.

Mindfulness practices to add to your regular routine

  • Take a walk without headphones or distractions. Look at the tree colours, listen to the sounds

  • Try breathing practices

  • Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bed to recap your day

  • Try a gratitude practice through your day

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