5 Life-Changing Benefits of Mindful Eating

Eating popcorn at a movie - an example of mindlesss eating

If you’ve ever given any thought to what you eat, you probably feel that you’re familiar with the term “mindful eating.” While thinking about what you’re putting into your mouth is a great thing to practice when managing your weight, the many daily benefits of eating mindfully can be life-changing! The following mindful eating benefits can make all the difference to your success in:

  • Losing weight
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Living a healthier lifestyle

5 Mindful Eating Benefits

1. Mindful eating causes you to be aware of how much you’re eating, which in turn, makes you more in tune with your body’s signals. This is important, because your body will tell you when to eat and when it’s had enough. Because you’re paying closer attention to what your body is "saying," you’ll be less likely to overeat. You’ll eat according to your body’s needs instead of:

  • A certain event
  • The clock
  • A show on TV

2. Mindful eating allows you to more fully enjoy your food, because you’re focused on the flavor, texture, aroma, presentation, the atmosphere around you – and what you are eating. This makes meals more satisfying and enjoyable, which makes it easier to end the meal without that unfulfilled feeling that keeps us searching for more.

3. Mindful eating is most effective when you eat slowly, sitting down and concentrating on the taste of what you’re eating. If sitting down to a meal is a rare treat, consider these benefits:

  • More awareness of the amounts you’re eating
  • More awareness of the reasons why you are eating
  • More awareness of how you are eating – including tasting and chewing
  • Better digestion of what you’re eating (due to the above)
  • Better absorption of the nutrients in what you’re eating (due to the above)

4. Mindful eating sends an important message to yourself that you are worthy and deserving of this time of much needed self-care. You’re treating yourself with the kindness and respect you deserve by taking this time to sit down, nourish and replenish and it will overflow to those around you... especially if you take it to the next level where the table is beautifully set, music is playing softly in the background and the food looks delicious!

5. Mindful eating brings awareness to your needs. This awareness can help stop emotional eating because with awareness, you can begin to feed what you’re truly hungry for (intimacy, down time, connection, more rewarding or fulfilling work, etc.).

Mindful Eating over Mindless Eating

Sometimes you may wander into the kitchen, open up the cabinets and wonder why you’re even there! This is mindless eating – and it’s different than emotional eating, where food is used as a coping mechanism, offering quick relief or a way to help control your emotional pain. Mindless eating happens when distractions and a lack of awareness cause you to take in food even though you’re not physically hungry. We all deal with mindless eating at one time or another.

Here are a few things you can do to put mindless eating in its place – and keep it there!

  • Ask yourself WHY you want to eat
  • Ask yourself WHAT you really need
  • Ask yourself WHAT you are feeling

Here’s something else to consider. Your "hunger" could actually be a sign of thirst. Our thirst mechanism doesn’t always work well, so you may think you’re hungry, when in fact, you’re just thirsty. Beginning a habit of mindful eating requires ending your habit of eating mindlessly and it takes patience and practice. Find the strategies that work best for you, and then apply those when you need them most!

Mindful Eating helps you see that food should be delicious and enjoyed. But in order to get the most satisfaction, flavor and benefits from eating, we need to take in every bite with more awareness of:

  • What we’re eating
  • How we’re eating
  • Why we’re eating

What life-changing benefits have you experienced as the result of eating more mindfully?

Photo from here, with thanks.