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What's Mindful Eating?

Nowadays many of us are used to mindlessly eat in front on a TV, on the go or scrolling on social media. Mindful eating encourages you to attune with your body and thoughts when you are eating and to intuitively respond to your hunger and satiety cues. It makes eating experiences more enjoyable and it can have health benefits too.


What’s mindful eating?

It is about bringing mindfulness to your eating choices and about being present during your meals. By doing so, you will learn to recognise and to intuitively respond to satiety cues and to the cues of the different hunger types (e.g. mind hunger, stomach hunger, eye hunger, heart hunger).


Crucially, mindful eating is not about restricting what or how much you eat, it is a tool that encourages curiosity about the food that you consume and about the responses of your body – all without judgement.



Health benefits

Improving digestion and relationship with food

Mindful eating supports optimal digestion, by helping to slow down the eating process, paying more attention to the chewing of food and improving stress management (1). Mindful eating may reduce emotional eating, binge eating and improve your overall relationship with food (2,3).



Weight loss

There is some evidence showing that incorporating mindful eating in weight management programs might have a positive effect on weight loss (4). However, there is limited evidence on this, and more studies are needed to confirm this. Moreover, the focus of mindful eating is not weight loss. Focusing on your weight and controlling food portions can often take the mindfulness away from eating, hence defeating the purpose.



How to get started


1. Start by paying attention to when you eat mindlessly

Be curious about the situation, your thoughts, and how your body feels. Then start to think about what you could do to be more present when you eat.




2. Keep your phone away from the table and switch the TV off


3. Take a few moments to relax before you start eating

It can be something as simple as taking a few deep breaths. Doing so will help you to take a break from what is going on and to dedicate your time and attention to yourself and your meal.



4. Be curious about the food on your plate

How many times do we eat without paying any attention to the colours, texture, flavours and smells of the food in front of us? That is an automatic action for many of us, which you can break by noticing them.


5. It does not need to be perfect!

To experience the benefits of mindful eating you do not need to practice it at every single meal (that may be unrealistic for many of us, myself included!). Start small, for example with a snack bar or something else that you enjoy, and build on it. With time it will get easier, and it will require less of your energy, because it will become automatic.




Is mindful eating for everyone?

Mindful eating is safe for the majority of people. However, mindful eating may not be suitable for people with an active eating disorder. If you or somebody you know suffers from an eating disorder, you can find more information and advice on the BEAT’s website.


REFERENCE LIST

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