Mindful Eating – A beginner’s guide

Mindful eating is a technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits.

It has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating and help you feel better.

This article explains what conscious eating is, how it works, and what you need to do to get started.

Photo by Ruslan Petrov / Unsplash

What is eating attentively?

Conscious eating is based on mindfulness, a Buddhist concept.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you recognize and deal with your emotions and physical sensations ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ).

It is used to treat many conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety and various food-related behaviors ( 5 , 6 , 7 ).

Eating carefully means using mindfulness to achieve a state of total attention to your experiences, desires and physical suggestions when eating ( 8 ).

Fundamentally, conscious eating involves:

  • Eat slowly and without distraction
  • Hearing signs of physical hunger and eating only until you are full
  • Distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger to eat
  • Involve your senses by perceiving colors, smells, sounds, textures and flavors
  • Learning to deal with guilt and anxiety about food
  • Eating to maintain general health and well-being
  • Realize the effects that food has on your feelings and your figure
  • Enjoying your food

These things allow replacing automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious and healthy responses ( 9 ).

Conscious eating depends on mindfulness, a form of meditation. Eating carefully means developing awareness of your experiences, physical cues and feelings about food.

See too:


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Intuitive eating is an approach to healthy and sustainable eating and acceptance of the body. Find out how to become an intuitive eater here.

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Why should you try to eat carefully?

Today’s fast-paced society tempts people with an abundance of food choices.

In addition, distractions have shifted attention from eating to televisions, computers and smartphones.

Eating has become an irrational act, usually done quickly. This can be problematic as it takes 20 minutes for your brain to notice that you are full.

If you eat too fast, the satiety signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much. This is very common in binge eating.

By eating consciously, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating intentional rather than automatic.

In addition, by increasing the recognition of signs of physical hunger and fullness, you are able to distinguish between emotional and true, physical hunger ( 10 ).

You also increase your awareness of the triggers that make you want to eat, even if you’re not necessarily hungry.

By knowing your triggers, you can create a space between them and your response, giving you time and freedom to choose how to react.

Conscious eating helps to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. It also raises your awareness of food-related triggers and gives you the freedom to choose your response to them.

Conscious eating and weight loss

It is known that most weight loss programs do not work in the long run.

About 85% of obese people who lose weight return or exceed their initial weight within a few years ( 11 ).

Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating and eating in response to food cravings have been associated with weight gain and recovery after successful weight loss ( 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 ).

Chronic exposure to stress can also play an important role in overeating and obesity ( 16 , 17 ).

The vast majority of studies agree that conscious eating helps to lose weight, changing their eating behaviors and reducing stress ( 18 ).

A 6-week group seminar on conscious eating among people with obesity resulted in an average weight loss of 9 pounds (4 kg) during the seminar and the 12-week follow-up period ( 10 ).

Another 6-month seminar resulted in an average weight loss of 26 pounds (12 kg) – without regaining weight in the following 3 months ( 19 ).

By changing the way you think about food, the negative feelings that can be associated with eating are replaced by awareness, improved self-control and positive emotions ( 17 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ).

When unwanted eating behaviors are addressed, your chances of long-term weight loss success are increased.

Conscious eating can help with weight loss by changing eating behaviors and reducing the stress associated with eating.

Photo by Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Conscious eating and binge eating

Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, without thinking and without control ( 24 ).

It has been associated with eating disorders and weight gain, and a study showed that almost 70% of people with binge eating disorder are obese ( 25 , 26 , 27 ).

Conscious eating can dramatically reduce the severity and frequency of binge eating episodes ( 17 , 20 , 28 , 29 ).

One study found that after a 6-week group intervention in women with obesity, binge eating episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 times a week. The severity of each episode also decreased ( 30 ).

Conscious eating can help prevent binge eating. You can reduce the frequency of the hinges and the severity of each hinge.

Conscious eating and unhealthy eating behaviors

In addition to being an effective treatment for binge eating, conscious eating methods have also been shown to reduce ( 20 ):

  • Emotional eating: This is the act of eating in response to certain emotions ( 31 )
  • External food: This occurs when you eat in response to environmental suggestions related to food, such as the sight or smell of food ( 32 )

Unhealthy eating behaviors like these are the most commonly reported behavioral problems in people with obesity.

Conscious eating provides the skills needed to deal with these impulses. It puts you in charge of your responses, not the whim of your instinct.

Conscious eating can effectively treat common and unhealthy eating behaviors, such as emotional and external eating.

How to practice conscious eating

To practice mindfulness, you need a series of exercises and meditations ( 33 ).

Many people find it helpful to attend a seminar, online course or workshop on awareness or conscious eating.

However, there are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits on their own:

  • Eat more slowly and don’t rush your meals.
  • Chew well.
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and turning off the phone.
  • Eat in silence.
  • Focus on how the food makes you feel.
  • Stop eating when it is full.
  • Ask yourself why you are eating, if you are really hungry and if the food you have chosen is healthy.

To start, it’s a good idea to choose one meal a day to focus on those points.

Once you understand, your attention will become more natural. Then you can focus on implementing these habits in more meals.

Conscious eating takes practice. Try to eat more slowly, chew well, remove distractions and stop eating when it is full.

Conscious eating is a powerful tool to regain control of your eating.

If conventional diets didn’t work for you, this technique is worth considering.

If you want to try conscious eating, you can find many good books on the subject in stores and online.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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