The concept of mindfulness has really taken off over the past couple of years.
From the pandemic and natural disasters, to global unrest (and all the rest!), we’ve been dealing with a lot – and mindfulness is one strategy that can help us to feel calm and less overwhelmed.
But did you know that mindful eating can also help you lose weight?
You might think losing weight is simply a matter of going on a diet or changing what you eat.
But as a dietitian who’s helped hundreds of clients lose weight, I know that’s not the whole story.
Because while WHAT you eat is an important part of losing weight, it’s actually more about changing HOW you eat if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good.
But what exactly is mindful eating? And how can it help you lose weight?
In this article, I’m going to explain what mindful eating is, and share 5 simple mindful eating tips for weight loss that you can start using straight away.
What is mindful eating (and how does it help you lose weight?)
As its name suggests, mindful eating is a form of mindfulness that helps you to be more present when you’re eating.
It allows you to fully focus on your thoughts, feelings and physical cues, so you have more control of your eating behaviours and can make better decisions about food.
Mindful eating is also one of the first things I get my clients to focus on when they want to lose weight.
Because the truth is, for most of my clients, what they eat isn’t the problem.
The REAL issue is that they’ve lost touch with their hunger, and no longer trust themselves around food.
The thing is, we’re all born knowing exactly what our body needs.
We see it with babies – they cry when they’re hungry, and pull away when they’re full.
But sadly, we tend to lose this skill as we get older, as we’re exposed to the food rules our parents, friends and the media tell us we should follow.
Mindful eating is the key to getting back to that natural state and listening to what our bodies need.
It’s about learning to trust yourself again, so you can enjoy food freedom and find your happy weight, without relying on external sources or ‘rules’ to guide you.
5 mindful eating tips you can use right now
So, we know mindful eating is an important part of losing weight for the long term.
But how do you actually do it, and what’s the best way to get started?
Well, there are 5 things you can start doing right now that will help you become a more mindful eater.
1. Recognise and honour your hunger cues
When your body is hungry, it tries to get your attention in a number of ways.
These can be physical signs, like feeling shaky or tired, or more psychological, like feeling cranky or thinking more about food.
The longer you wait to eat in response to these signals, the more intense they will become – at which point you may find it difficult to make good food choices or eat appropriate amounts.
So, the first step to eating more mindfully is to learn to recognise those hunger cues, and then honour them before they become too urgent.
One way to do this is to keep a hunger log for 3 to 4 days, where you record when you feel hungry and the physical and psychological sensations that accompany that.
Getting to know your hunger cues might seem frustrating at first, but the more you listen to your body, the more you’ll begin to hear and get to know the subtler signs of hunger.
2. Ignore all the ‘food rules’ you’ve been taught
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve likely got a whole bunch of ‘food rules’ that you follow that may actually be stopping you from meeting your body’s basic needs.
For example, one of the most common diet rules I hear is that you can’t eat after a certain time (usually around 6–7pm) if you want to lose weight.
Of course logically, this doesn’t make any sense.
Our bodies don’t have opening and closing times, and they don’t suddenly start processing foods or using calories differently at night than they do during the day.
In fact, most of the energy we consume is used in just keeping our basic bodily functions going. This means we actually need energy, even when we’re sleeping!
To start letting go of these rules, or what I call the ‘diet mentality’, I recommend that you unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself or your body, features extreme exercise or dieting behaviours, or talks about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods.
Instead, make connections with more body positive accounts (like mine!), so you feel less alone and more inspired and empowered to start thinking about food in a completely different way.
3. Eat until you’re comfortably full
Do you eat until you’re comfortably full?
Or do you eat everything that’s on your plate, even if it’s more than what your body actually needs?
If you’re like a lot of my clients, you might identify with the second option.
It might be because you’ve been taught that eating everything on your plate is the polite thing to do.
But it might also be because you’ve lost touch with what being comfortably full actually feels like.
Most people are familiar with what overeating feels like. But many people have lost touch with those early signals that your body sends that tell you you’ve had enough to eat.
These signals can include:
- feeling food in your stomach
- feeling satisfied and content
- feeling nothingness – not hungry and not full
The sensation of fullness is highly individual though. It’s something you really need to experience yourself so you know what it feels like in your body.
One way you can do this is to intentionally leave one or two bites on your plate at each meal.
This will help you break the habit of eating everything on autopilot and help you to become more aware of your own personal fullness cues.
4. Avoid distractions when you eat
When you’re a mum, life is busy.
And you’ve probably become an expert at multitasking and doing #allthethings.
But an important part of mindful eating is to be more present when you’re eating – and that means removing any distractions.
I know it might be tempting to scroll through your phone while shoving down your breakfast and making the kids’ lunchboxes (likely at the same time!).
But by removing distractions and focusing on what you’re eating during meal times, it will be much easier to tune into your body and recognise those feelings of fullness.
5. Choose foods that are satisfying and filling
Eating is a necessary part of life – but it can also be one of life’s greatest pleasures.
And just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food!
One way you can make eating a more pleasurable experience is to make sure you’re choosing foods that are both satisfying and filling.
Foods that are high in the so-called ‘power four’ (protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibre) will help you stay fuller for longer, so you can avoid those up and down feelings of hunger that can lead you to overeat.
If you do decide to eat something ‘naughty’, think about how great it tastes, and how much you’re enjoying it.
This will help you feel more satisfied, and as a result, you won’t feel the need to eat as much!
Some final thoughts about mindful eating for weight loss
Remember, learning how to eat more mindfully is just like learning any other skill.
It might be hard and feel uncomfortable to start with, but the more you do it, the easier it will get and the more natural it will become.
And soon enough, you’ll wonder how you ever did it any other way!
Want to know more about how to lose weight and keep it off so that you can say goodbye to dieting and hello to being the energetic hands-on mum you want to be?
What you need is a new approach, some support, and accountability to help set you on the right track.
That’s where I can help!
You’re invited to watch my free on-demand masterclass: 5 Steps to Permanent Weight Loss.
In this free on-demand masterclass, I share:
- The 3 biggest reasons why diets don’t work, and how they’re stopping you from achieving permanent weight loss and keeping you in the diet cycle.
- My 5 step plan to permanent weight loss that doesn’t include counting calories or following a restrictive diet.
It’s the exact same framework that I teach my 1:1 clients in my Eating Made Easy program.
And now I’m going behind the scenes and sharing it with you too!
Get instant access now!
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