What is mindful eating and why is it important?

Summary

  • Mindful eating is about being aware of what we eat, how we eat and how much we eat.
  • Mindful eating can benefit you in many ways, from weight control to kindling positive feelings in you.
  • Binge eating, stress eating, and eating for cravings often cause weight gain.

The idea of mindful eating, which centers around healthy food and habits, is not new. It has its roots in Buddhism. This ancient way of eating has the healing power for the body and soul. Like mindfulness is about living in the moment, being aware of our thoughts, moods or surroundings, mindful eating is about being in the moment while eating.

An average US citizen spends two and half hours a day consuming food, according to a study by the US Department of Agriculture in 2011. But they also perform other tasks like reading, driving, or watching TV while eating. Hence, people are not fully conscious of what they eat and how they eat, so in a way they have pretty much no control over the process.

Mindful eating is about being aware of what we eat, how we eat and how much we eat.

Mindful eating can benefit you in many ways, from weight control to kindling positive feelings in you.

According to a research published in the journal Obesity in 2016, obese people who participated in a study lost an average weight of 4 kg after practising mindful eating for six weeks. They also found that mindful eating replaces negative thoughts with positive feelings and creates awareness about healthy eating.

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Binge eating, stress eating, and eating for cravings often cause weight gain. On the other hand, mindful eating embraces healthy food habits and helps develop self-control and avoid stress eating or food cravings. It improves the overall health of practitioners and cushions them from conditions like heart diseases, indigestion, and blood pressure, according to the study titled ‘Effects of a mindfulness-based weight loss intervention in adults with obesity: A randomized clinical trial’ by Jennifer Daubenmier, published in 2016.

Mindful eaters prefer healthy food over non-nutritional food like snacks. Healthy food helps increase physical and mental strength. People who practise mindful eating claim they feel happier than others. It is also therapeutic for those with depression, say experts.

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Know the benefits of mindful eating

Now that we know the benefits of mindful eating, let’s move on to knowing some simple ways to practise it.


First, be thankful for the food you receive. Eat only when you are hungry and avoid over-indulging yourself, which means stop eating when you start felling full. Eating slowly, with due attention to the smell, color, texture, and other aspects of the food is essential. Take small bites and chew thoroughly. Enjoy food like you enjoy other aspects of life such as listening to music or site-seeing. Savour and taste every bite.

Second, always sit down and eat and try to have your meals in a group. While sharing food is healthy, avoid having junk food in the process. According to Prof. Lilian Cheung of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, mindful eaters consume vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and all that is natural. Mindful eaters do not consume processed food like burgers, pasta, or pizza, but they can practise mindful eating even with them, say experts.

In addition, one should be fully attentive while buying food, mainly organic products, and cooking and serving. Thus, mindful eating supports sustainable agriculture.

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