Sustainable Weight Loss: The Power of Mindful Eating
Updated: Mar 22
It's time to ditch the diet mentality and learn how mindful eating can help you meet your weight loss goals.
As a registered dietitian, I often hear from clients who are struggling to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet. While there is no magic pill or quick fix when it comes to weight loss, I believe that mindful eating is one of the most powerful tools we have for achieving sustainable results.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about being present and fully engaged in the act of eating. It involves paying attention to our physical and emotional hunger cues, savoring each bite of food, and being mindful of our body's signals of fullness and satisfaction. Here are some key principles of mindful eating that I encourage my clients to incorporate into their lives.
1. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.
Many of us have lost touch with our body's natural hunger and fullness signals. As young as preschool, we are taught to ignore our hunger cues because it “isn’t time for lunch yet”. We also eat for reasons other than physical hunger, such as boredom, stress, or social pressure. Mindful eating involves tuning in to our body's signals and eating when we are truly hungry, rather than on a schedule or out of habit. It also means stopping when we are comfortably full, rather than cleaning our plate or continuing to eat out of a sense of obligation or desire for more.
2. Engage all your senses when you eat.
Eating is not just a physical experience - it's also an emotional and sensory one. When we eat mindfully, we engage all our senses in the experience. We savor the flavors and textures of our food, appreciate its appearance, and take pleasure in the social and emotional aspects of eating. This can help us feel more satisfied and fulfilled by our meals, reducing the urge to overeat or snack mindlessly.
3. Avoid distractions when eating.
It's hard to be mindful when we're distracted. When we eat while watching TV, scrolling through social media, or working at our desks, we're more likely to eat mindlessly and overeat. Mindful eating involves being fully present and engaged in the act of eating, free from distractions. I encourage my clients to set aside time for meals, without screens or other distractions, so they can fully enjoy and savor their food.
4. Honor your feelings without using food.
Many of us turn to food as a source of comfort or to soothe difficult emotions. Mindful eating involves being aware of our emotional state and finding other ways to cope with our feelings. This could mean taking a walk, practicing deep breathing, or talking to a friend or therapist. By separating our emotional needs from our physical hunger, we can develop a healthier relationship with food and avoid using it as a coping mechanism.
Changing our eating habits can be challenging, and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Mindful eating involves approaching ourselves with kindness and self-compassion, rather than judgment or criticism. I encourage my clients to focus on progress, rather than perfection, and to be gentle with themselves when they make mistakes or have difficult days. By treating ourselves with compassion and understanding, we can build a sustainable and positive relationship with food.
In conclusion, mindful eating is a powerful tool for sustainable weight loss and a healthier relationship with food. By tuning in to our physical and emotional hunger cues, savoring each bite, and being present and engaged in the act of eating, we can build healthier habits and find greater satisfaction and fulfillment in our meals. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I encourage my clients to incorporate these principles into their lives and practice self-compassion as they work toward their goals.
If you're ready to take the first step towards creating a healthier, positive relationship with food, let's work together.
About the Author:
Shelbie Greenville is a Registered Dietitian & the owner of Mindful Nutrition Counseling. She has a bachelor's and a master's degree in human nutrition with a focus in metabolism and chronic disease management.
Shelbie specializes in weight loss, diabetes management, insulin resistance, mindful eating, and general wellness. By taking an "all foods can fit" approach, she has helped to empower hundreds of clients to reach their health goals.