We are a busy bunch of people and sometimes that means a hurried lunch at the desk while we work, or a quick bite in the car on the way somewhere. This rushed and distracted eating practice is not ideal. Being mindful means giving our attention to what we are doing in that moment, helping us to experience it fully. Mindful eating, therefore, means being present while we eat and works on increasing our awareness of internal eating cues.
Mindful eating is the opposite of automatic eating. Ya know, the type where we’re watching a movie, popping handful after handful of popcorn in our mouths. Or watching the tv while dinner mysteriously disappears inside our bellies. Instead, mindful eating is eating in response to hunger and satiety. We stop eating when we’re full because we notice we’re full.
This study found that mindful eating patterns (defined as focused eating, eating with awareness and eating without distraction) were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and a lower likelihood of having depression.
Another found that participants who were encouraged to practice mindful eating during their lunch meal were significantly less likely to consume a high-caloric snack two hours later compared to the non-mindful eating group.
And this one found that mindful eating helped with food craving-related eating.
Last, this literature review found that mindfulness-based practices are effective in addressing binge and emotional eating and eating in response to emotional cues and that they may prevent weight gain. The review also found studies showing reduced food intake in overweight and obese populations.
Give it a try. Mindful eating could change your relationship with food.