While it's true that one big benefit of mindful eating is fostering a healthier relationship with food and your body, there are plenty of other reasons to adopt a more mindful approach to your food habits.
Whether your goal is to have a healthier relationship with food, eat better for lasting weight loss, or feel more in control around food, mindful eating can help!
From reducing autopilot (aka habit) and emotional, to increased food satisfaction and digestion, mindful eating delivers some amazing health and wellness benefits.
Benefit #1: Reduce Overeats
One important practice of mindful eating is eating more slowly. When you eat at a slower pace you give your brain and stomach the opportunity to connect, helping you tune into feelings of fullness. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register your stomach is feeling full. Which is why wen we eat quickly, we tend to eat more “mindlessly", taking bite after bite, scarfing food down, and eating past feelings of fullness.
Eating mindfully uses your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the food choices you make. This helps to increase gratitude for food, improving your overall eating experience and feelings around food. With mindful eating you take your time, enjoy the sight, smell and flavors of your food, which makes it easier for your body to recognize when you’re beginning to feel full, increasing feelings of satiety and satisfaction. Tapping into your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues also makes overeats less likely by helping you to be truly present with your food rather than eating distracted or to soothe an emotion.
Benefit #2: Understanding Emotional Eating Triggers
What makes you crave the chips, chocolate or wine? Often, it has nothing to do with hunger and everything to do with how you're feeling. When you feel the urge to run to the pantry for cookies, crackers or chips, mindful eating offers the perfect opportunity to pause and take a step back so you can ask yourself "how am I feeling?" and realize what emotions may be playing a role in your sudden food cravings. Mindful eating gives you more opportunities to dive into those underlying causes and emotional triggers so you can identify patterns and take meaningful action to cope with them more healthily.
Journaling can be a great tool to help you release your thoughts and feelings in a safe space, helping you to identify triggers and understand what you need most in that moment, so you can feel in control and make the best choice for you in that moment.
Benefit #3: Trust Your Ability To Make Good Choices
When it comes to food cravings, diet culture often tells us to ignore them, asking us to remove all the "junk food" from the house, and double down on willpower. While it may be tempting to remove fun foods from your pantry, fridge and freezer in an effort to eat better and feel in control, the opposite tends to happen. Rather than fostering a healthy balance where fun and nutrient dense foods co-exist, it promotes an all or nothing mindset around food, leaving us feeling deprived and restricted and creating a sense of fear around certain foods.
Mindful eating embraces an all foods fit mentality that removes the guilt, fear and shame around food. Empowering you to enjoy that slice of pizza with a nutrient dense salad too. And when you create space for fun foods, you give yourself permission to enjoy them fully, removing the "good and bad" food labels, which reduces overeats.
As you begin to practice eating more mindfully, you'll boost confidence in your ability to make the best food choices for you, tuning into your hunger and fullness and removing the stigma and fear of overeating fun foods when they're in your environment. Mindful eating is about building a better relationship with food and your body, for the long term.
Mindful eating will give you more control over how you manage food cravings by understanding them, so you can nourish your hunger and give yourself what you really need when it's not. You'll begin to act in control because you feel in control, able to decide how much and when you want to enjoy something. And over time, it will become easier to honor your cravings without fear of getting it "right".
Benefit #4 - Learn To Live In The Moment
Do you find it hard to be fully present in life's moments? Mindful eating is a great way to practice being truly present and in the moment. Tuning into your thoughts and feelings around food and identifying current eating habits will get you into the habit of being in the present, and over time this becomes a skill much easier to master in other areas of your life. If you’re looking for an effective way to increase satisfaction in all areas of your life, mindfulness creates that opportunity.
A few tips for staying truly mindful when you’re eating:
Check in with your body and notice how you're feeling. One of the best questions to ask is, "How am I feeling?" When you pose this question to yourself, you break from the routine of simply eating out of habit, which can help you tune into feelings of real hunger, and identify feelings of fullness.
Sit down (preferably at a table) when you eat. This applies to both snacks and meals. And definitely keep those distracting devices out of reach. Putting your attention on your food makes it easier to be more mindful. If you tend to eat on-the-go, while you’re watching t.v., or scrolling your phone, this is an important step. Not only will you save on extra calories, but you'll find you actually end your meal feeling more satisfied too.
Notice the tastes, textures and smells of what you’re eating. This is a simple way to increase feelings of satiety and satisfaction. Try closing your eyes when you take that first bite and let your senses take over. How does it taste? How does it make your body feel? What do you notice? Instead of rushing through the meal, learn to savor the experience. When you slow down you'll find you enjoy your food more and support healthy digestion too.
Benefit #5 - Less Bloating And Indigestion
Do you often struggle with bloating, indigestion or other digestive issues? Mindful eating can help. Eating at a slower pace means there is less potential for belly bloat and other digestive discomfort. Why? Because you swallow less air and chew each bite more thoroughly before you swallow, helping you break down your food into smaller pieces for better digestion.
Try setting your fork down between bites, taking sips of water every 2 or 3 bites, and taking calming deep breaths. These are all great ways to calm your nervous system, helping you enjoy your food more and support your body's ability to digest and absorb nutrients more efficiently. And the end result is a happier gut!
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women like you who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.