How Mindful Eating Can Lead to Weight Loss

Posted on by Ellen Kittredge

Did you know that the less awareness you bring to the table, the more you’ll need to eat and the greater your weight gain will be? How often do you eat your meals in front of the computer, checking emails and shoveling food in at the same time, or mindlessly watching TV, and going back for seconds on that bowl of ice cream before you realize that you didn’t even taste the first bowl? I’m sure you’ve heard that old saying: “Where attention goes, energy flows.” If you concentrate on your food - what you are eating - you will absorb and assimilate the actual nutrients in it. How do we know this to be true? Well, there are two specific examples I’d like to share that will explain how lack of awareness of what we are eating leads to weight gain. The opposite effect of course, the positive side of this, is that the more awareness you bring to the actual consumption of food, the easier it is to lose weight. Examples: 1) Our bodies go through something called the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response (CPDR) every time we sit down for a meal. CPDR is the pleasure of taste, aroma, satisfaction and visual stimulation of a meal. 30-40% of the total digestive response to any meal is due to CPDR – our full awareness of what we are eating. One example of CPDR is the saliva that is created in your mouth (which is full of digestive enzymes) before you've even taken a bite of food. So, if we are distracted while eating, we are metabolizing our meal at only 60-70% efficiency. And why would this lead to weight gain? It’s simple. We need to eat more to feel satisfied. To see weight loss, our metabolism needs to be functioning optimally. That means we want to be metabolizing our food at 100% all the time, not 60-70%, which happens if we don't slow down enough to appreciate the visual, aromatic and taste sensation of every meal. 2) In a test where subjects were given a mineral drink to test for absorption of sodium and chloride, when in a relaxed state, the test subject absorbed 100%. At a different session, when given same mineral drink while exposed to dichotomous listening (two people talking to them at the same time), the results showed that they had a complete shutdown of chloride and sodium absorption for 1 full hour afterward. Basically, they completely lost the ability to absorb these nutrients when they were not focusing on the food and were in a heightened state of stress where they were trying to listen to two stimuli at the same time. Perhaps you could imagine a scenario where you just sat down in front of the TV to eat your dinner, and your spouse is calling to you from the kitchen… Consider bringing more awareness to the table for your next meal. Not only will your health benefit, you’ll probably enjoy your food more as well!