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What Is Mindful Eating?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
March 4, 2023
November 28, 2023

The most common reason for over-eating is because we’re eating on autopilot- and usually FAST! In social situations we might want to try all the foods on the table, or eat more because someone else is eating a little extra. But in the moment, we are definitely aren’t thinking about why we grab the handful of chips or the donut from the break room. We. Just. Eat. Here are some tips to help you pay more attention.

What is Mindful Eating?

Put simply, eating mindfully means eating with intent and attention. But what does that even mean? Well, when we pay attention to the act of eating, we are more aware of:

  • The taste and texture of food
  • Our body feelings before and after consuming the food
  • The emotional and physical cues and sensations we get while eating.

The idea is not to be 100% mindful with every bite of every meal, though. No! Instead, the concept of mindful eating makes us more aware of eating in general,.

To practice mindful eating, concentrate on the taste, the reasons behind your choices, and the atmosphere around you.

Besides basic awareness, curiosity and non-judgement are crucial components of mindful eating, too.

When we are passing judgement on ourselves and others for eating certain foods, this creates a sense of stress or anxiety, making it harder to connect with our bodies in that moment or pay attention to internal cues.

The Benefits

So yes, I know it may sound to some like an overly sensitive, overly caring approach to eating, but it works! Here are some of the benefits of eating mindfully.

  • Improved glucose control in people with diabetes. There were several pilot studies done that found mindfulness eating led to a reduced A1C by an average of 0.83.
  • Helps with weight management and weight loss: While a few different studies showed different amounts of weight loss from mild to significant, all studies appeared to positively benefit the research participants.
  • Reduces risk of binge eating: All studies consistently show that mindful eating reduces symptoms of binge eating and binge disorder. It also reduces risk of emotional eating and eating in response to cues like food packaging or time of day.

But mindful eating is not so simple as thinking about what you are eating… No. There are 3 cornerstones in the mindful eating strategy of what and how to think before, during and after consuming a meal or snack.

Takeaways

While practicing mindful eating is a great strategy to have a healthier relationship with food overall, practicing these strategies for a specific reason like weight loss can set you back. So instead, think of mindful eating as a way for you to improve your intention and control when you eat. and even when you snack! And of course, if you want to try mindful eating practices, start with the most controllable factors in most of our meals: The snacks!

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