Can Mindful Eating Help You Lose Weight?
Mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening around you at the moment. This includes noticing what is on your plate, the colours of the food, smell, texture, chewing your food slowly and getting rid of any distractions like your phone, TV, reading while you eat and more.
Published studies of mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss were identified through systematic review including a comprehensive search of online databases. Out of 19 studies, significant weight loss was documented among participants in mindfulness interventions for 13 of the 19 studies identified for review.
The Mind-Gut connection
The gut is now considered to be “our second brain”. There are many series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system especially while we eat. According to a Harvard report, it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness), so if someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it.
Another reason why we need to stop eating while doing other activities is because our bodies are not capable of fully digesting our food if we aren’t focused. In fact, digestion can slow down or stop all together if we are trying to do many things at once (similar to a "fight or flight" response). When we are stressed, our body shuts down digestion as it takes a lot of energy to digest the food. Instead, our body “reserves” all the energy so it can deal with the stressful situation or focus on other things.
Tips and tricks to get started
Here are some tips and tricks that you can follow, so you can start incorporating mindful eating into your life:
1. Set a timer for 20 minutes, so you can truly enjoy your food.
2. Think of all effort that you or someone else put cooking your meal. Think of the farmers, where the food comes from and why you are eating this meal. Is it nourishing your body?
3. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry before you eat. Avoid eating from the package, container or pot.
4. Take small bites
5. Put your phone away, turn off the TV and focus on your food for 20 minutes.
Remember that training your brain can be as hard as training your body. It does take time but the most important thing is that you are aware of your actions and practice more mindfulness every day.
1. Mindful eating may help with weight loss, Harvard Health Publishing
2. Mindfulness and weight loss: a systematic review, Olson KL
Photo: FODMAP Life