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Mindful Eating

In the wake of the high prevalence of overweight and obesity and eating disorders, health and nutrition practitioners and experts are tasked with a high demand to help their clients achieve a healthy lifestyle. Aside the numerous diet-related changes that are made, behavioural attitude towards eating has been found to influence nutritional status of people. Food is culture and eating is a lifestyle. The mindful eating technique creates a perfect blend of enjoying food and achieving desirable health outcomes without affecting the cultural element of food. This technique teaches us to appreciate food just like how we would appreciate all things of cultural significance to us.

Mindful eating is an approach that focuses on sensual awareness of food and the experiences that comes with it. The purpose of this approach is to help people appreciate foods they are eating and call for their attention, their eating experiences.

Mindfulness is largely applied to the treatment of a wide range of health issues including stress, anxiety, depression and now nutrition. Mindful eating forms part of the Complementary Alternative Medicine approach used in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, obesity and eating disorders.

Mindful eating has been found to have several positive benefits including;

  • Lesser consumption of energy dense foods and portion sizes
  • Weight loss and improved obesity-related eating behaviours
  • Resolved binge eating and other eating disorders

Mindful eating does not focus on rules but rather people’s personal experiences with the foods they are eating. Nonetheless, these recommendations help to achieve those experiences;

  • Eat intentionally without any distractions like watching TV or using mobile devices
  • Take time to appreciate the processes or activities (e.g., shopping and cooking) that led to the final food you are about to eat
  • Be particular about the quality of the food instead of its quantity
  • Identify personal triggers for mindless eating. Before eating, take time to identify whether you are eating because of hunger or because of other emotions like sadness and stress. If the latter is the case, do not eat rather find another activity to relieve you of those emotions
  • Chew food thoroughly using the fletcherize technique i.e., chewing 32 times before swallowing
  • Pay attention to physical cues about hunger and satiety. What happens as you are eating? Do you feel full?
  • Eat while sitting at a table and not while standing, driving or walking about
  • Aim for a 20-minute meal time

Take a moment to savour each bite of food and appreciate the nourishment that comes from Mindful Eating!

REFERENCES

Beshara, M., Hutchinson, A. D., & Wilson, C. (2013). Does mindfulness matter? Everyday mindfulness, mindful eating and self-reported serving size of energy dense foods among a sample of South Australian adults. Appetite67, 25–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2013.03.012  

Carrière, K., Khoury, B., Günak, M. M., & Knäuper, B. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity19(2), 164–177. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12623 

Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum: a publication of the American Diabetes Association30(3), 171–174. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0015

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Written By: Gillette Valentina Sylvia

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