Mindful Eating – Suddenly, You Have Power Over Food

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Mindful Eating - Suddenly, You Have Power Over Food
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Buddhist teachers encourage their students to use meditation as a way to appreciate the sensation and purpose of each morsel of food they eat. This technique has been adopted by modern culture and is popularly known as mindful eating, which has been shown to cause weight loss, reduce binge eating, and help a person feel better.

What is mindful eating? How does it work? What are the basic things you need to get started? This article will explore mindful eating which has helped many people achieve a healthy lifestyle.

What Is Mindful Eating?

A document from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes mindful eating as a concept that calls for more focus on the food that we are eating and highlights the need for more awareness of our level of hunger and fullness. [1] This 360-degree approach to eating emphasizes the value of using our senses to find pleasure in our food.

Based on Buddhist meditation practices, mindful eating has been found effective for people suffering depression, stress, and anxiety. [2]

How Does Mindful Eating Work?

A small growing body of research has proven mindful eating could help with weight problems, deal with stress, and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties. Some of the elements of mindful eating can be traced to the ideas of Horace Fletcher, an early 20th-century businessman and self-proclaimed nutritionist who proposed the health benefits offered by chewing food thoroughly. [3] However this practice has roots in ancient oriental systems including Zen Buddhism.

According to a CNN article, mindful eating involves several elements which are outlined below:

• Focusing on chewing your food.
• Taking your time when eating your food.
• Being in tune with your body’s signals that you are hungry or full.
• Being aware of your food’s appearance, smell, and taste.

The same article criticizes the emergence of eating as a habit, with people eating mindlessly or based on their cravings. It underlines the role of mindful eating as our constant reminder of what to do and what not to do, eating-wise. [4]

Mindful eating is a way for people to tap the full nutritive value of the food that they are consuming. If you eat too quickly, you only achieve satiety after overeating. Eating while you are distracted by activities like watching TV or reading also slows down or stops digestion. Hurried and distracted eating may add pounds and take away pleasure. [5]

How To Get Started With Mindful Eating

Here are some tips that will guide you to a way of eating that only pleases your taste buds but also supports your body’s health. These tips will help you start gradually with mindful eating.

• Take at least 20 minutes to eat a normal-sized meal.
• Experiment with eating using your non-dominant hand.
• Try using chopsticks when eating your meals (this slows you down).
• Meditate on your food for five minutes, thinking about where your food’s ingredients came from, how they are harvested, where you bought the ingredients, and how you cooked them.
• Take small bites and chew well.
• Choose the food that you really like, is healthy and which would satisfy you.
• Keep your attention on eating, tasting, and assessing your hunger and satiety throughout the meal.

Health Benefits Of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating helps us develop habits that could benefit our total health. Here are ways how mindful eating can be beneficial for our wellbeing.

1. Weight Management

A study published in the June 2014 issue of Obesity Reviews confirmed the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for reducing obesity-related eating behaviors including binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating. [6] The study identified a variety of approaches to implement mindfulness training including mindfulness therapy, mindful eating programs, and mindfulness exercises.

2. Tool For Cancer Treatment

Yes, according to Stephanie Meyers, a dietitian at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, mindfulness techniques when eating can help cancer patients with their symptoms and healing process. Mindfulness training was proven effective when integrated by a study into an intervention to support a dietary change in patients with prostate cancer. [7]

3. Reduces Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

A study published in the journal Obesity has proven the link between learning how to eat mindfully and better measures of heart health. [8] The researchers attributed the improvements to lower stress, weight loss, and better food choices brought by mindful eating.


[1] U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lifestyle Coach Facilitation Guide: Post-Core. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/postcurriculum_session5.pdf

[2] Miller CK et al. November 2012. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Comparative Effectiveness of a Mindful Eating Intervention to a Diabetes Self-Management Intervention among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3485681/

[3] University of Missouri Libraries. Food Revolutions: Science and Nutrition, 1700-1950. The Great Masticator. https://library.missouri.edu/exhibits/food/fletcher.html

[4] Jacqueline Howard. June 14, 2017. Mindful eating: ‘Suddenly, you have power over food. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/14/health/mindful-eating-lose-weight-hospital-profile/index.html

[5] Howard LeWine. March 29, 2013. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Distracted eating may add to weight gain. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/distracted-eating-may-add-to-weight-gain-201303296037

[6] O’Reilly GA et al. June 2014. Obesity Review. Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Obesity-Related Eating Behaviors: A Literature Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046117/

[7] Carmody JF et al. November 2012. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A Novel Measure of Dietary Change in a Prostate Cancer Dietary Program Incorporating Mindfulness Training. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483420/

[8] Mandy Oaklander. May 10, 2016. Eating This Way Can Improve Heart Health. http://time.com/4252816/mindful-eating-heart-health/

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