Mindful eating: food for thought
New dieting fads come around so often, listing what you should or shouldn’t eat, that at times it can feel overwhelming. But with a simple set of techniques you can avoid all that by tuning into your mind and your body for long-term change. This is known as ‘mindful eating’.
It’s not hard to see the appeal: obesity rates have nearly doubled since 19802 and many of us need to reduce our food intake. But dieting is not easy, is often unsuccessful, and is sometimes linked with poor body image3. Mindful eating offers a positive alternative.
This approach (also called intuitive eating) draws on mindfulness – a practice that involves developing self-awareness to combat stress, along with other positive effects. The research is still in its early days, but links have been found between mindful eating and less ‘disordered eating’ (such as bingeing), a more positive body image, and greater emotional functioning1.
Think about food more
With mindful eating, rather than dieting, you work on really understanding what you’re eating and why. In this way you make conscious choices, and learn to understand how foods make you feel physically and mentally. You can discover which foods give you pleasure, not only immediately, but also in the long term.
How it works
A major hurdle in maintaining weight is the easy availability of food. If we eat mindlessly – in front of the television, for example – it’s easy to consume large quantities without realising, or without even really enjoying it.
Eating mindfully involves exploring how you feel when you are eating, how you feel afterwards, and considering what you might do differently next time. Over time, the idea is to understand what works for you, so that you can become more aware of what you eat and enjoy your meals more intensely.