Mindful eating is a powerful practice that can offer you many benefits. What it’s not is another quick-fix gimmick to help you “lose weight within 7 days” and I surely won’t be proclaiming that with mindful eating you’ll never binge or experience another craving ever again.
But what mindful eating does offer is a long-term solution to help improve your relationship with food. It takes more of a “slow and steady wins the race” approach to health and wellbeing, and what you may discover about yourself and even about your life, just might be more than you bargained for.
Although it sounds simple, practicing mindful eating can oftentimes prove to be challenging as you become more aware of your habitual eating patterns – and oftentimes you may not like what we see, although an essential place to start when initiating change. With focused effort, you too, can reap the many benefits of learning to eat more mindfully. What can you expect some of the benefits to be? In this post, I’m going to outline some of the top benefits of learning to eat more mindfully.
Top 5 Benefits of Mindful Eating
1. Mindful Eating Empowers You with Choice
How many times have you felt like overeating was beyond your control, as if you had no choice? Mindfulness is the anti-dote to routine, habitual patterns. Being mindful while you eat helps you step out of recurring habitual behavioral patterns and allows you to discover the newfound power of choice. We all have the freedom to choose, but only when we’re in a conscious state of awareness. I’m sure you can imaging how this simple benefit can ripple out and cause a tidal wave of other positive benefits influencing everything from weight levels to habitual eating patterns.
2. Mindful Eating Teaches You to Eat Based on Internal Cues
Just so you don’t feel alone on the matter: we are all constantly triggered to eat by millions of cues that are totally unrelated to physical hunger. The practice of mindful eating teaches you how to become more aware of these “external triggers” to eat. Some examples of external triggers that we’re largely unaware of are the time of day, eating because someone else is eating, eating because you turn on the TV, or eating because it’s raining. With mindful eating, you can learn how to tune into your internal cues of hunger and fullness and use this information to drive your eating patterns rather than non-hunger related cues.
Please remember: it’s not bad to eat when you’re not hungry or because someone else is eating and you want to join them. Mindful eating simply allows you to become aware of the process and empowers you to make conscious decisions rather than continuously acting out the same habitual patterns.
Mindful eating allows you to routinely check in with yourself by pausing and asking yourself “Am I still hungry”? This single benefit can have tremendous results and help foster a positive relationship with food.
3. Develop Trust in Yourself
How many times have you felt like you just couldn’t trust yourself around food? Perhaps you’ve flexed your ‘give-in’ muscle one too many times and now you don’t trust yourself to eat a “normal” or “regular” portion sizes of food. Practicing mindful eating tunes you into your own inherent wisdom and you start to trust yourself to make the right decisions about what your body needs.
4. Craving Control
If you struggle with constant cravings, then you’ll likely know exactly what I mean when I describe that familiar urge or impulse to eat something. This is one of the main essences of mindful eating – to interrupt the impulse – the automatic pilot you’ve become habituated to and allows a moment where you can be present enough to make a choice. Mindfulness is like placing a speed bump between you and the food of your desire and allows you to insert conscious choice into the equation. Mindful eating can “wake you up” and allow you to acknowledge, “I’m about to eat, I’m acknowledging what I’m about to eat, I’m noticing why I’m about to eat, and I’m creating a space around this act of eating with the attitude of mindfulness.”
5. Weight Management
Being guided by internal as opposed to external cues enables you to naturally manage your weight. Weight management becomes easier as we learn to put down the fork before you feel stuffed or become aware of triggers to eat and choose not to eat when you’re not hungry. When you feel present with what you’re eating, you also feel more nourished and satisfied. This is a key element to sustaining a positive relationship with food and weight management.
Mindfulness allows you to honor the food we eat, and thus honor yourself. It has the power to change the way you relate to food, to your body, to the earth and even your life.
Have you given mindful eating a try? What benefits have you noticed by eating more mindfully?
Aloha From the Big Island of Hawaii,
Laura Dawn, Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies
Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Mindful Eating Mentor