Picture the scene: you’re in the cinema with a large container of popcorn on your lap. Focussing on the film, you eat all the popcorn without considering if you are yet full up, perhaps without even glancing at the container. Now, I like a film and popcorn as much as the next person. However, this serves as a vivid example of mindless eating: eating without conscious consideration.
What Is Mindful Eating?
The opposite of mindless eating is mindful eating. Touted as having many benefits, it is definitely a good starting point for any nutrition-focussed eating plan, with its roots in the philosophy of mindfulness, a centuries-old practice. Mindfulness is a holistic approach, which involves living in and accepting a moment, using all your senses to experience and enjoy it. By removing distractions and focussing fully on what is happening around you, you are fully present and more able to regulate your emotions and take positive actions.
The Roots Of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a small part of mindfulness and involves adopting the philosophy when you are eating. Studies show that people who eat mindfully are more likely to lose weight, reporting improvements in biopsychosocial conditions, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia.  It makes sense that focussing on your plate, your senses, and your body, you are less likely to overeat or eat too quickly.
How To Eat Mindfully
In a fast-paced world, it can feel difficult to carve out time for each meal, but it is possible. Plan your meals and snacks in advance, allocating time for each. Start with one meal a day, concentrating on the one at which you have the most time, gradually incorporating the practice into each mealtime.
Sitting at a table for meals instead of in front of the television is a small step towards eating more mindfully. Eating at your desk, or while on your phone, disconnects you from your food, so put down your devices and, if you can step away from your work, do so.
Engage Your Senses
You are aiming to eat slowly and without distraction, listening to your body and the cues it is providing you. We eat quickly to get it over with, and therefore have made ourselves less able to realise when we are full. With society dictating when we should eat, it’s difficult to listen to hunger cues (we are so used to overriding them), so this may take some practice. Engage all your senses, noting what your food looks and smells like, which colours and textures are involved. Pay attention to how it feels in your mouth, and how that changes as you chew it. How does it feel to swallow the food, and how does it change the way your body feels? After each bite, consider if you are full. This process is an intentional act, rather than mindless and automatic.
Mindful eating is a valuable way of considering your body’s needs, and has many benefits, both physical and psychological. So, next time you go to the cinema and are in the queue for the extra-large combo, ask yourself if you really want it now, or if perhaps you’d rather enjoy the film and food separately, slowly, and without distraction.
Do you often find yourself eating mindlessly?
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About The Author
Jane Michell is nutrition and weight loss expert with over 20 years’ experience. Prior to starting Jane Plan she was working in a hospital helping people achieve a happier and healthier weight. She founded Jane Plan from her kitchen table 13 years ago – Jane Plan , and has grown to become the UK’s most highly rated healthy weight loss plan, delivering meals, plus Nutritionist coaching, all over the UK.
Is a published author, frequently on TV and a regular contributor to the press on all things health and weight loss, Jane is passionate about helping people achieve their goals. Together with her team, Jane works tirelessly to deliver a quality service, that anyone looking for a healthier weight, can trust.
To find out more visit: www.janeplan.com