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 If you’ve ever wondered what the benefits of mindful eating might be, you’ve come to the right place.

I mean, how often do any of us really give our full attention to what we’re eating, anyway?

I’m not talking about simply picking out the type of food you want to eat, tasting it and thinking, “mmm, that’s good,” before swallowing it exactly five and a half bites later.

I’m talking about being totally mindful of what we’re eating.

That means putting your undivided attention on all your senses as you eat a meal or a snack.

Obviously, nobody really does because everyone is too busy for it.

People are out the door to work with pieces of toast clenched between their teeth or they’re sitting on their couches hunched over giant bowls of pasta while watching Netflix.

And this is a big deal.

Not only are we missing out on fully enjoying what food has to offer us, but also overeating and eating when we’re not even really hungry.

You want to take control over your diet?

Then it’s time to put mindfulness and eating together.

Here are some solid tips to help you do just that, plus the benefits of mindful eating that you can expect from practicing.

benefits of mindful eating

Benefit #1: Greater control over emotional eating.

Emotional eating

There are two types of hunger.

There’s real hunger, which is felt in the stomach and is often accompanied by that weird gurgling noise.

And then there’s fake hunger.

Disguised as real hunger, these are simply intense cravings in your head that are triggered by emotions and stress.

If your hunger is felt in your stomach, then you should eat.

However, if it’s only coming from your brain, then you’re not really hungry and most likely don’t need to eat.

Sometimes they can happen together and it can be difficult to separate them, but mindfulness will help you do it.

This is one of the most important steps, if not the most important step, to mastering mindful eating.

How to reap the benefits:

Before you start eating, take a moment to check in with the physical sensations of your body.

Next, check in with your emotions.

Use your physical and emotional feedback to then identify whether your hunger is coming from your brain or your stomach.

Benefit #2: Nothing to distract you from what and how much you’re eating.

Watching TV while eating

To truly be a mindful eater, which requires full awareness of the eating experience, you can’t be doing anything else.

That means no watching TV, no looking at your smartphone, no driving, no working, no reading, no people watching, no walking down the street and no talking to friends/coworkers/family members at the same time as eating.

Sounds weird and boring, right?

Well, sure, maybe at first, but when you’re sitting at a table with absolutely nothing to distract you as you eat, you’ll eventually come to realize just how many sensations went unnoticed when you were a multitasking eater (which most of us are these days).

This is hard for any beginner to do for every meal and snack every single day, so if you can aim to practice mindfulness during at least one meal or snack every day, or even every week, and keep it up, then you can eventually increase its frequency.

How to reap the benefits:

Plan to sit down to eat at a table, without your phone, TV, books, magazines, or anything else mentally stimulating around you.

You can play some relaxing music in the background if you like.

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Benefit #3: You’ll notice more about your food and naturally eat slower.

Salmon dinner

Your food has a certain look to it, including colours, shapes and textures.

It may feel a certain way in your hand or on your fork, or it may have a very strong and distinct smell to it.

It may even give off a steam in a way that warms your face.

There are a ton of details to notice about your food before you even eat it.

Simply becoming more aware of them can be powerful enough to keep you from overeating because you’ll naturally eat slower and therefore give your digestive system more time to fill up.

It may possibly even open your mind enough to help you appreciate foods you never used to like all that much.

How to reap the benefits:

Focus your awareness on the sensations you experience from your food before it enters your mouth.

Bring your awareness to the food you pick up on your fork, examine it with your eyes, feel the weight of it in your hand, and smell it with your nose.

Benefit #4: You’ll chew more and absorb more nutrients.

Eating a sandwich

Aha, the fun part!

The whole point of eating!

(Well, besides staying alive, of course.)

Now you get to really focus on feeling your teeth bite into whatever it is you’re eating, noticing the initial textures and tastes it triggers on your tongue — ever so slightly altering both its texture and taste with every chew and every area of your tongue that touches it.

Don’t rush this part.

Chew more than you usually do and taste it fully.

The more you chew, the better your body will be able to absorb the food’s nutrients and the quicker you’ll realize that you’re probably satisfied before overdoing it.

How to reap the benefits:

Take a bit of your food and focus on the taste and feeling of the food as you chew — the warmth, the texture, the moisture, or anything else.

Notice whether it’s sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent, or pungent/spicy.

Savour every bite and all of its sensations.

Benefit #5: You’ll enjoy your food more and feel more satisfied.

Food satisfaction

The final step to take toward becoming a serious mindful eater is to shift your awareness beyond taste.

Taste and the physical act of eating are usually the overwhelming sensations that feel so good, even when we’re not being mindful, but don’t let it stop there.

It’s important to also notice the feelings you experience when chewed up food slides down your throat and into your stomach.

How to reap the benefits:

After a few bites or so, shift your awareness to your digestion.

Focus your awareness on the sensations you experience from swallowing your food.

Your stomach gets heavier and that hungry feeling you once had disappears.

You might even be surprised to find how little you’ll end up eating before you’re full compared to how you used to eat.

Benefit #6: You may naturally lose weight.

Weight loss

Mindful eating prevents overeating from mistaking emotions for hunger and banishing distractions.

As a result, you might actually find that you lose some weight just from eating less than you’re typically used to eating. 

How to reap the benefits: Make mindful eating a long-term habit. Aim to practice it at all your meals and snacks (if possible) for weeks, months, and even years. And don’t worry about trying to be perfect every time — we all get busy, distracted, stressed, and emotional. The important thing is to focus on is to practice it more often than not.

Benefit #7: You’ll set yourself from calorie counting.

Calorie counting

When you practice mindful eating, you won’t have to constantly track your calories or macros and guess whether or not you’re eating too much (or too little).

You’ll be able to trust in knowing when you’re truly hungry, what your body needs to be nourished, and how much of it. 

How to reap the benefits:

Use calorie and macro counting apps primarily as educational tools rather than tracking tools.

Any time you find yourself second guessing your hunger or cravings, use a combination of calorie/nutrient information as well as self-awareness to determine what, how much, and when you should eat.

The Benefits of Mindful Eating Are Worth It

Most people don’t practice true mindful eating because it’s hard, and eating is instinctive.

It’s also not as exciting as watching Netflix or chatting with coworkers at the bistro around the corner.

But if you do it, you can almost be guaranteed that most of your major diet problems will melt away on their own, and you’ll begin to reap all of the benefits of mindful eating discussed above.

Mindful eating turns eating into a very rich experience that isn’t just an impulsive reaction to your stomach’s hunger and your brain’s cravings.

Try it at least for one day to see how different of an experience it can be.

You probably won’t regret it.

benefits of mindful eating

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Having struggled with diet and fitness since her early teens, Elise spent most of her life cycling between periods of extreme exercise/food restriction and binge eating/burnout. After suffering metabolic damage back in 2013, she began to research how hormones and metabolism affect weight loss and body composition. She has since achieved the most hourglass-like figure she's ever had and continues to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle eating everything in moderation and exercising regularly.
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