Why does mindful eating work?

why does mindful eating workThe nutrition world is a-buzz with mindful eating. (Although p.s. I have my concerns regarding the number of instagram posts including the hashtag #mindfuleating! – more on this another time!)

Anyways, why does mindful eating work? what are the benefits?

 

Mindfulness  is tuning in to the NOW. It allows us to be “present”, paying full attention to our thoughts, emotions and surroundings. Compared to conventional nutrition plans or “diets”, mindful eating is not-so-much about the WHAT you eat. More often it’s about the how, when, why & where you eat.

If you are new to mindful eating, you can read up a little more here.

So why does mindful eating work ?

There are several reasons. Dr Jean Kristeller (Ph.D) from Indiana State University states “Mindfulness can help bring balance into every aspect of how we eat”. There a lot of triggers to our eating. It could be actual physical hunger and a need for energy. It could also be:

  • stress
  • anger
  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • boredom
  • pure joy OR
  • “just because”

meditateMindful eating works because it allows us to slow down and notice what is happening at that present time. For example,

  • noticing our emotions or thoughts like stress or anger
  • noticing our levels of hunger & fullness
  • noticing our eating environment,  like who we are with, what food is available and where it came from

Mindful eating then gives us a space or moment in time to pause. That pause basically gives us a chance to NOT REACT but to  RESPOND.

It allows us to:

  • choose satisfying, foods we want to eat
  • choose foods that honour our hunger & fullness levels
  • choose foods without judgement or guilt

The health effects of mindful eating

Many people ask if mindful eating helps with losing weight. It can. If you have been previously over-eating or binge-eating, mindful eating can help. It allows you to become much more in-tune with the amount and types of food you body requires.  For many people this might mean eating less calories and weight loss. However, the aim of MINDFUL EATING is NOT WEIGHT LOSS.

Diets and a focus on caloric restriction rarely work in the long term. In fact, for people that are stuck in a bit of a dieting cycle, there is no actual evidence diets -for-weight loss are beneficial to health.  The whole point of mindfulness is to connect with the present and make health goals on a day-to-day and moment-by-moment basis.

Mindful eating serves us by:

  • taking the focus off weight loss and onto health
  • increasing our awareness of unhelpful thoughts & emotions
  • exploring acceptance of the unhelpful thoughts & emotions
  • reducing the need to use food to manage the unhelpful thoughts & emotions

It’s also worth noting, there are some related (and wonderful!) interesting clinical effects from mindfulness itself.

Regular mindfulness and meditation practice (which are a part of most mindful eating programs) show:

  • improvements in blood pressure
  • reduction in anxiety, depression & anger
  • an increase in self-compassion

 Want to give mindful eating a go?

If you would like dip your toe in the water so to speak, we have a FREE 5 day mindful eating challenge!  You can sign up here:

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