Mindful eating tips for weight loss is a tricky subject.
Mindful eating is NOT specifically a weight loss tool. In fact a lot of people who turn to mindful eating are doing so because they have been under eating and need more nourishment.
But in some circumstances, mindful eating can lead to weight loss. It’s relative to where you are starting from in your relationship with food.
What Is Mindful Eating?
Before talking about mindful eating tips for weight loss, let’s define mindful eating.
It is the practice of being present while eating, enjoying your food, and not focusing on food rules.
Instead of focusing on calories, or carbs, or fats, it focuses on the nourishment and enjoyment to be derived from the food you are having.
It’s important to understand at this point that your interpretation of this could be completely different to someone else’s.
For some of you, if you have been under-eating for a while, or recovering from an eating disorder, this might mean allowing yourself to enjoy your food and acknowledging that your body is hungry.
If you are someone that has consistently been eating past the point of feeling full, it might be the opposite – listening for signals that your body has had enough.
This is a complicated topic and does overlap heavily with eating disorders. If you are concerned about an eating disorder, please stop reading here and contact a qualified professional for support.
However, if you are trying to eat more mindfully, and are not battling an eating disorder, this may help set you in the right direction.
Mindful Eating For Weight Loss
Now that we’ve established what mindful eating is, let’s look at how we can practice it.
Like I already said, mindful eating is NOT a weight loss tool. It is there to help you develop a better relationship with food. So with the below tips, weight loss isn’t guaranteed.
They are there to help you switch your focus when eating, become more present in the moment, and become more intuitive with the food you’re eating.
As you heal your relationship with food, that can in turn lead to weight loss as it removes the emotional attachment (or the stigma) to foods.
Let’s do this!
Mindful Eating Tips For Weight Loss
Savour Every Mouthful
It’s easy for us, especially when we’re busy or on the move, to just force food down or throats without giving much thought to what we’re actually having.
If you can take a moment to slow down, chew your food, savour the flavours, feel the textures, and appreciate each bite, you will enjoy what you eat a lot more.
You’ll feel more satisfied and may not feel cravings later on.
Pause Between Each Bite
One of the most common suggestions for mindful eating is to put your fork down between each bite. This does also apply to foods you can eat with your hands.
Take a moment to reflect between each bite and check in with how you’re feeling.
Do you still feel hungry? Are you enjoying what you’re eating? Is this triggering any emotions?
This will give you a chance to get in-sync with what is going through your mind and your body while you’re eating.
Meditate Before Each Meal
You might re-coil when I mentioned meditation but I have found this to help me more than anything else.
I sit in a quiet room for 5 minutes, and press play on a 5 minute meditation track. It’s usually something from Youtube.
I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and check in with myself.
- How am I feeling right now?
- How do I feel about the meal I am about to have?
- What else is weighing on my mind?
None of this is mindful eating directly during my meal, but it gives me the mental clarity to be more mindful while I’m eating.
It’s pre-mindful eating mindfulness.
Create An Experience
What I mean by creating an experience, is to try to turn each meal into something a little bit unique or special.
It might be something like using some new plates or new cutlery. It could be lighting some candles, or playing some background music.
Basically, go for something which would make it feel special to you.
I’m tee-total but I enjoy alcohol-free spirits which appear to be gaining in popularity.
Sometimes before a meal I will make myself an alcohol-free gin and tonic with ice, a lime wedge and an orange peel, and take a small sip between each bite.
It’s not a big deal but for me it can act as an anchor and reminder that this is an experience to be enjoyed.
Don’t Ban Foods
This isn’t specific to any single meal. But in general, across your day or week or month, don’t ban the foods you love.
We all have some emotional attachment to some foods and banning them can make you crave them even more.
When you are battling cravings, it becomes much harder to be mindful of what you’re doing in the present.
There is a valid argument that you should avoid “trigger” foods that take you out of mindful eating. But balancing that with cravings is a very delicate act and different things work for different people.
I am much better with managing my trigger foods when I don’t prevent myself from having them and when I can make room for them on my plate.
It took some adjustment for me, but being able to remind myself that the same food I crave will be available tomorrow and the next day, and so on, helps take away the cravings or the worry that I won’t be able to have it again.
It stops me from bingeing and helps keep my binge eating disorder in check.
Mindful Eatings Tips For Weight Loss When You’re In A Rush
All of the above, pretty much without exception require some time, and preparation.
That’s not always available to us.
So we may need to change strategy if we’re on the move or can’t sit down to savour a meal.
To be honest, I am still working on this but here are a few things that have helped me.
- Knowing my go-to staple snacks. For me, it’s usually protein bars. I have a few favourite ones, I know how long they’ll keep me full for, and they satisfy my cravings.
- Being present. I regularly eat at my desk while working and I usually end up reaching for another bite only to realise I’ve already finished what I was eating. While I can’t be distraction-free if I’m working and eating at the same time, I can at least be present. I can give my food some of my focus at least, even if not all of it.
- Thinking before each bite. I can’t do the full process of stopping, savouring each mouthful, and then move on. But I can do that for the first couple of mouthfuls and then when I’m in tune with what I’m putting in my mouth, I can still give myself that power to think before each bite. This does tie in with being present.
- Try to plan. Things will inevitably go wrong or get delayed at some point. Do your best to plan your meal times around your schedule, and rely on your staples if you know you can’t stop to eat.
It is still a huge area for improvement for me. Sometimes I will eat more earlier on because I am worried about not being able to eat when I want to later. It’s the practical thing to do, of course. But when I get to my meal later on, I find it hard to be mindful because I have that “extra” I had, living in the back of my mind and stressing me out.
How Do These Mindful Eating Tips For Weight Loss Actually Help?
I hope this helps guide you in the right direction for eating more mindfully. But I don’t really cover weight loss specifically in any of them.
Well for the third time, mindful eating isn’t a weight loss tool. It’s a tool to heal your relationship with food.
So here’s how this can help with weight loss.
You may be someone who has tended to eat past the point of hunger in the past. Or maybe you haven’t really had the chance to derive enjoyment from your food, so you eat more of it to plug that gap.
Perhaps you’ve tended to turn to food as comfort when you’re stressed or tired.
Mindful eating can help you refine that relationship with food so you get more in-tune with your body’s hunger signals, you get more pleasure out of the food you’re having, and food becomes an experience to enjoy on a daily basis.
As a result of that, you may find you eat less food, you may eat more nutritiously, and you may find don’t have cravings anywhere near as often.
In turn, that is how these mindful eating tips for weight loss can help.