Eating Mindfully Can Assist Weight Loss

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2751-1219053_untitled.jpgMany are always trying to follow a certain diet for weight loss, but we often forget about one of the most important dieting behaviors: mindful eating.

Mindful eating means being fully conscious and aware of your eating process. We often eat mindlessly when sitting in front of the TV, rushing out the door in the morning, or just by following old habits. Mindful eating is the key to staying slim and healthy for life.

Here are 8 techniques to eat more mindfully.

  1. Before you think about eating a meal, stop and think about the reason you are eating. Is it boredom, stress, or real hunger? In addition, rate your hunger on a scale from one to ten. One means you are starving and ten means you are uncomfortably full.
  2. Decide what controls your eating. Is it your schedule or lifestyle? Is it your emotions? Or, is it simply the presence of food?
  3. Fill your plate only half-full with food. When you finish with that plate, take a moment to see how full you feel. If you are still hungry, add food to about 20% of the plate. You may continue to do this until you feel satisfied.
  4. Cut food into smaller bites so that it takes you longer to eat the same amount of food. This will allow more time for you to realize when you are full. Fully experience mealtime by smelling, tasting, and thinking about each bite of food.
  5. If you think you feel hungry, set a timer for twenty minutes, and then, re-evaluate to see if you are still hungry. Sometimes we think we may be hungry, but after drinking some water or waiting a few minutes, you may think otherwise.
  6. You can also try setting a timer for twenty minutes at the start of a meal. Try to make your meal last the entire twenty minutes and do not rush through it.
  7. Take a bite of each of the different foods on your plate by “food hopping”. By eating different bites of different foods, this will help you to slow down and enjoy the different flavors slowly.
  8. Create a pause and set down your fork between each bite.

Do you have any other techniques you use to eat mindfully?

Resource: Discover Mindful Eating by Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE and Frederick Burggraf, MEd.

13 Comments

  1. Jason

    This is a great article. I hope you write more inspiring article to feed our minds and soul. Thanks a lot and I do hope to see another great article from you.

    Reply
  2. lala

    lol, well, I know what you mean by that. I don’t know how to bake a cake and my cravings are normally for salty foods. I make it a point not to have chips at home when I know I’m gonna eat them.. but nobody is perfect, I have Garett’s Almond Caramel popcorn in my room for snacking. I just keep my calorie intake within my daily requirements.

    And like you said, eating small bits of what you’re craving really helps! I do that too. 🙂 Deprivation always makes things worse.

    Reply
  3. Creative Bioscience

    Another great tip I’ve found to help, is to set down your fork between bites! If it’s not in your hand, you feel less compelled to take another bite.

    Reply
  4. O.

    You know, I’ve tried waiting out a craving. It only leads to some pretty freaky behavior like frantically baking a cake at 3 am when I can’t stand it anymore. LOL

    The eating small bits of what I’m craving technique really calms me.

    Reply
  5. lala

    My technique will be to wait it out when I have cravings. Other than that, I would share my treats with my friends, so I wouldn’t finish up the whole pack. My boyfriend likes to eat sweet stuff sometimes, so I will steal a bite.

    I make it a point to myself never to purchase a huge bag of chips (for example) and only buy the single serving packs even when it’s more expensive, so that I won’t continue snacking mindlessly. God knows those Lay’s are so addictive..

    Reply
  6. LBC

    Re: Why snack on veggies?

    Uh . . . vitamins? Fiber? Just because you like them?

    O: I rarely buy full-sized candy bars. Yeah, I still eat candy occasionally, but I’ve started thinking of a fun-sized bar as a full-sized one (I cut actual full-sized ones in half), and I find that it’s plenty.

    Reply
  7. O

    I think thats the point. They fill you up without a lot of calories.

    Some popular diet plans refer to them as “free foods” meaning you can eat as much as you want.

    I used to start each meal with a plate of steamed veggies.

    Reply
  8. O.

    I’ve been buying snack sized bags of chips and bags of “Halloween size” candy bars.

    I’ve been surprised at how little an amount of a treat I can be satisfied with.

    There is something about having to tear open another bag or unrap another piece that makes you think.

    And when I do feel like having a little more it’s easy to count the calories.

    Reply
  9. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    Becoming a mindful eater is so important. For me, incorporating foods high in fiber often helps me make better decisions about what and how much I eat when cravings strike. These types of foods help me feel fuller longer so my hunger doesn’t get out of control.

    Reply
  10. RedAU

    I find that detailed planning leads me to fail, as I just end up rebelling, landing square in the middle of the bulimic hell that was my teens and twenties.

    For me, the only times I have been happy with my weight and my eating is when I pay attention whether I’m hungry or not, what exactly I want to eat, and then focus on enjoying the eating process and finishing when full. I also find that thinking about what I’ve already eaten that day/week can be helpful in guiding my food choices.

    Counting calories and following strict rules/plans does not work for me – listening to my body’s signals does. For losing and maintaining, albeit at a higher weight than I might like aesthetically, but is fine for health.

    Reply
  11. ArrowSmith

    What it the point in snacking on veggies? They have no calories and won’t do anything…

    Reply
  12. Spectra

    I plan out my meals every day and don’t eat anything that I haven’t already planned out. I precut veggies and put them in the fridge for snacking on, I take fruit to work to eat with my lunch, etc. Failing to plan=planning to fail.

    Reply
  13. LBC

    I technically started out as a calorie counter, but my ultimate goal was to retrain myself to eat mindfully (and in smaller portions) instead of just chowing out of boredom or habit. Oh, my–what a difference!

    The weird thing is that I feel like I actually think about food less now, possibly because I enjoy it more while I’m eating it and regret it less afterwards since I don’t overeat.

    I wonder if this is what is really going on when hypnosis seems to work for weight loss: The person’s focus has been shifted from the issues for which food was standing in, to food itself, so the person can then control what s/he eats.

    Reply