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All About Mindful Eating


The idea of mindful eating was first coined a few decades ago, and is now known as a practice in which individuals build a healthy relation with food, increasing awareness of what you are eating, moment by moment, free of judgement.¹,² Benefits of mindful eating include better management of stress eating and cravings.³⁻⁶ This is because mindful eating allows us to better identify intentions around eating and strengthen the link between our intentions and behavior to better reflect our hunger signals.⁷⁻⁸


One way to practice mindful eating is to eliminate distractions such as computers and phones, allowing you to tend to your meal.⁹ Another common practice is to be mindful of how the food affects your satiety, a sense of fullness and satisfaction from food. By having a greater sense of our body’s hunger signals, we can better control temptations to binge eat, stress eat, or emotionally eat.⁹ An extension of this practice is to focus on how food makes you feel.⁹ What does it taste like? What flavors are present? What textures? Is this something I enjoy? By asking these questions, we can also find a greater appreciation for ‘bland’ foods that are less palatable such as vegetables or other plain foods. At the same time, increased awareness may result in hyper-palatable junk foods becoming too overstimulating for your palate.


Mindful eating is a great way to build a healthier relationship with food. Three implementable tips include a) eliminating distractions, b) paying attention to hunger cues, and c) paying attention to how food makes you feel. For those first starting out, try implementing one of these practices to start with, and slowly try other practices as you grow more aware of your eating habits.


References


  1. Kristeller, JL (2015) Mindfulness, eating disorders, and food intake regulation. In: Ostafin, BD, Robinson, MD, Meier, BP (eds) Handbook of Mindfulness and Self-regulation. New York: Springer, 199–215.

  2. Teasdale, JD, Segal, ZV, Williams, JMG, et al. (2000) Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 68(4), 615–623.

  3. Czepczor-Bernat, K, Brytek-Matera, A, Gramaglia, C, et al.(2020) The moderating effects of mindful eating on the relationship between emotional functioning and eating styles in overweight and obese women. Eating and Weight Disorders 25, 841–849.

  4. Dutt, S, Keyte, R, Egan, H, et al. (2019) Healthy and unhealthy eating amongst stressed students: Considering the influence of mindfulness on eating choices and consumption. Health Psychology Report 7(2), 113–120.

  5. Egan, H., Keyte, R., Nash, E. F., Barrett, J., Regan, A., & Mantzios, M. (2020). Mindfulness moderates the relationship between emotional eating and body mass index in a sample of people with cystic fibrosis. Eating and Weight Disorders, 26(5), 1521–1527. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00969-6

  6. Mason, AE, Jhaveri, K, Cohn, M, et al. (2018) Testing a mobile mindful eating intervention targeting craving-related eating: Feasibility and proof of concept. Journal of Behavioral Medicine 41(2), 160–173.

  7. Chatzisarantis, NL, Hagger, MS (2007) Mindfulness and the intention-behavior relationship within the theory of planned behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 33(5), 663–676.

  8. Black, DS, Sussman, S, Johnson, CA, et al. (2012) Trait mindfulness helps shield decision-making from translating into health-risk behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health 51(6), 588–592.

  9. Daubenmier, J., Kristeller, J., Hecht, F. M., Maninger, N., Kuwata, M., Jhaveri, K., … Epel, E. (2011). Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese Women: An exploratory randomized controlled study. Journal of Obesity, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/651936

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