Implementing mindful eating techniques can help support you on your weight loss journey. The concept of mindful eating focuses on paying close attention to your experiences during eating, including your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the process.
As defined by the Harvard School of Public Health, mindful eating involves becoming more aware of food choices, how it affects us, and other details that enhance the meal experience. For example, this might include paying closer attention to how your body feels after a meal or considering the amount of food consumed without judgment.
Learning and implementing mindful eating techniques can be useful to help you become more in tune with your body's cues. From recognizing hunger and fullness cues to eliminating distractions during meal times, discover our top five tips for implementing mindful eating below.
1. Pay Attention to Hunger and Fullness Cues
With food all around us in today's society, it can be easy to overlook your body's hunger and fullness cues. Many people consider hunger to be one state, however, there are actually several different types of hunger.
If you've ever felt physical symptoms when hungry, such as shakiness or a headache, you've experienced physical hunger. Meanwhile, emotional hunger may be driven by how we feel, such as bored, tired, or stressed out.
On the other hand, another type of hunger, mouth hunger, may occur when we taste something sweet or salty. By identifying which type of hunger you feel, you'll learn to have better control over your food consumption habits.
Identifying which type of hunger you're experiencing can be helpful in preventing overeating or eating out of boredom.
Our bodies also send us fullness cues while we eat. As you eat, taking a pause to consider if you feel full can prevent you from eating too much.
2. Eat Slowly and Savor Each Bite
Another component of mindful eating includes slowing down during our meals. Slowing down throughout each bite allows you time to truly enjoy the experience of consuming food. Throughout your meal, actively try to savor each bite, paying attention to how you feel and the sensations you experience.
Not only does eating slowly provide an enhanced dining experience, it also allows you time to properly chew each bite. As you begin to experience feelings of fullness throughout the meal, your body can communicate with your mind, signaling when it may be a good time to stop eating.
3. Avoid Distractions While Eating
As you aim to lose weight, try to remove distractions as you eat. Eating while multitasking, such as playing a game or watching TV, may lead to unknowingly eating too much. This also includes putting away your cell phone at the dinner table may take some time to get used to.
Focus solely on the process of eating and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings throughout each bite of your meal. Removing these common distractions allows you to be able to pay closer attention to the flavors and texture of your food. This process can help you learn to identify hunger and fullness cues easier.
4. Recognize Your Emotional Triggers for Overeating
It is also important to become conscious of your emotional triggers for overeating. Some people turn to food to help them cope with negative or difficult emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger, or heartbreak.
Recognizing emotional triggers means becoming aware of your emotional eating tendencies and actively stopping yourself from consuming too much food when you are not truly hungry. This intuitive approach to weight loss is designed to help bolster your awareness about your food choices.
Actual hunger and emotional hunger may present differently, helping you to easily identify the difference between the two. Emotional hunger can cause you to have sudden cravings or a strong urge to overeat. On the other hand, physical hunger presents more gradually as you become hungrier over time.
Once you identify your personal emotional triggers, it's easier to become more aware of overeating. If you catch yourself consuming food out of emotional hunger, turn to alternative activities to help provide a distraction. For example, instead of eating when you're angry or scared, consider going on a jog around your neighborhood.
5. Develop a Healthier Relationship with Food
Practicing mindful eating can help you to develop a more positive, sustainable approach to weight loss. Remember to be patient with yourself. It can take time to develop an understanding of intuitive eating and how to implement it. With practice and awareness, you'll become more in tune with your body's cues and signals.
Intuitive eating is only one of the many ways that you can develop a healthier relationship with food. Explore more weight loss and general health tips by browsing the ActiveFit+ blog. We offer a wide array of lifestyle content to support you on your health and wellness journey.