While it's true that a big benefit of mindful eating is weight loss, there are plenty of other reasons to adopt a more mindful approach to your eating habits, even if your end goal is not weight loss. From pumping the breaks on emotional eating to improving your digestion, mindful eating can have some seriously impressive benefits.
Benefit #1: Less potential for overeating
Eating at a slower pace gives the opportunity for your brain and stomach to connect - helping to send the signal when you’re full. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of eating “mindlessly” eating, taking bite after bite on auto-pilot, which means you're missing your body's hunger signals and before you know it, you’ll have eaten a whole boat load of extra calories without even feeling full.
With mindful eating you take your time, enjoying meals and snacks, which makes it easier for your body to recognize when you’re beginning to feel full, so you can start to recognize the cues that will leave feeling satisfied rather than stuffed. Tapping into your body’s natural hunger cues makes overeating less likely by eliminating external distractions that might cause you to eat for reasons not released to actual hunger. Just another good reason not to eat in front of the computer or television.
Benefit #2: Getting to the bottom of emotional eating triggers
What makes you crave junk food? 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 take a step back and ask yourself how you’re feeling and what emotions may be playing a part in your cravings. Being mindful with your eating gives you more opportunity to dive deeper into underlying emotional eating triggers so you can recognize patterns and take action.
Emotional journaling can be a great tool to help you release those feelings in a safe and effective way that will offer you the ability to give yourself what you really need in that moment, so you can move forward healthier and happier.
Benefit #3: Trusting yourself to make healthy food choices
When it comes to cravings, you’ll often hear you need to remove all the unhealthy foods from your life in order to avoid falling victim to temptation. While this can help at the beginning of your healthy eating journey, when you’re first getting the hang of mindful eating and taking steps to change your eating habits, it’s not something you should have to practice long term. That's a BIG benefit of eating mindfully!
Once you understand mindful eating, you will boost trust and confidence in your ability to make healthy food choices, even when there are less healthy tempting foods in your environment. Mindful eating is about building a better relationship with food, for the long term.
Mindful eating can give you more control over cravings and limit how much you consume when you choose to indulge. Over time, it will become easier to satisfy your cravings with just a few amazing bites, rather than overdoing it with no real feelings of satisfaction.
In some cases, you might just lose the appetite for junk food altogether! Slowing down your eating can make you much more appreciative of the tastes and textures of your food, and when it comes to processed food, you may find that you really do not enjoy the reality of its taste and feel as you did when you were eating less mindfully.
Benefit #4 - Encouraging you to live in the moment
Do you find it hard to be in the present moment? Mindful eating is a great way to practice being fully present and in the moment. Tuning into your eating habits regularly will get you into the habit of being in the present, and over time this becomes much easier to master in other areas of your life. If you’re looking for an effective way to increase mindfulness in your day-to-day, mindful eating creates that opportunity.
A few tips for staying truly mindful when you’re eating:
Check in with your body while you’re eating and notice how you're feeling. One of the best things to ask is, "How am I feeling?" When you pose this question to yourself, you break from the routine of simply eating, which can help you to recognize feelings of fullness or emotions previously unrealized.
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 or while you’re watching television or scrolling a mobile device, this is an important step. Not only will you save loads of calories, but you'll find you feel more appreciative and satisfied too.
Notice the tastes, textures and smells of what you’re eating. It can help to keep your eyes closed when you take that first bite and let your senses take over. When you savor each bit vs. racing through a meal, you'll increase feelings of satiety and satisfaction and find you enjoy mealtime so much more.
Take deep, calming breaths between bites. When you’re used to eating quickly, you’ll often barely breathe between bites, but taking a bit of time to slow the process down can help you to be more mindful and present at mealtime. To take this one step further, try setting your fork or spoon down between bites, which will help you to naturally slow the eating process and pause between bites.
Benefit #5 - Less bloating and indigestion
Do you struggle with bloating, indigestion or other digestive problems? This is an area where mindful eating can have incredibly powerful and positive benefits. Eating at a slower pace means there is less potential for belly bloat and other digestive discomfort. Why? Because when you swallow less air and chew each bite thoroughly before you swallow it helps break your food down into smaller pieces for better digestion. And the end result is a happier gut!
Are you are a woman who is ready to live healthier and happier, ditch the diet, and discover small steps that make a big impact so you can live a life you love in a body you are proud of? Come join me inside my women’s-only Facebook Group - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy women go for tips, tools and support so they can eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!