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Mindful Eating by Dr Emilia Thompson

These days, most of us trust an app on our phone to tell us what and when to eat, rather than our own bodies. We eat out of habit, routine, stress and sadness. Mindful eating encourages us to tune in to our own hunger and satiety signals, developing the trust we have in our bodies to inform our food choices.

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment, without distraction and free from judgement. When it comes to food, realistically most of us struggle to be present (hello stressed wandering minds), eat without distraction (“The Chase” anyone?) or indeed, eat without judgement (how often do you think you ‘shouldn’t be eating that’?).

Several pieces of research have identified mindful eating practices as a method to reduce emotional eating 1,2 and further, to support the reduction of binge eating occurrences and severity in obese individuals 3,4.  Preliminary evidence suggests it may even support fat loss through a reduced energy intake 5. Think about it, how often do you find yourself eating without actually feeling hungry? Mindful eating encourages a healthier relationship with food by encouraging compassionate awareness around food choice.

Below are 5 simple tips that you can employ with your clients to make meals more mindful:

1. Slow down.
Aim to take 10 minutes to eat one meal each day. Take small bites and chew well. Notice any differences in fullness after eating your usual meal. Remember, digestion takes time. Give your brain time to recognise what you have eaten.

2. Eat without distractions
Yes, that includes Instagram. Take your well-angled food picture then put the phone down. Pay attention to what you’re doing, eating and not what is on the TV. Maybe then you will actually taste your food (and enjoy it).

3. Tune in to hunger
Ask yourself before you eat, how hungry actually are you? Are you eating out of hunger, or out of habit, boredom or convenience? Again, when you are finished, how hungry are you?

4. Eat a variety of food
All too often we fall into eating the same meals each day, so often in fact that we forget what food actually tastes like. Try different flavours and textures. Set yourself a challenge of one new food each week (this is also great for increasing your micronutrient intake)

5. Eat without judgement
Stop giving food a moral value. No food is inherently good or bad, clean or dirty. Avoid judging what is on your plate and accept it for what it is – a delicious satiating meal.

As you can now see, programming for clients is much more than just a “one size fits all” plan and should include a holistic approach that considers your clients current lifestyle and circumstances and promotes a healthy relationship with food! All clients will at some stage of their life lose weight, its keeping it off that proves the challenging part! Empowering your clients with proper education and strategies such as mindful eating will ensure they are in a much better position to create long-lasting changes to their nutrition and lifestyle and maximise their results!

Are you a PT, coach or fitness professional and haven't already signed up to our online nutrition course yet? Sign up to the course today! The course consists of ten online modules and on completion of these you will receive an accredited certificate in Nutrition by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and earn CPD points from your professional body.

NOTE: The following information is for educational purposes only and does not reflect the opinion of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, nor is it intended for product marketing purposes.

1. Dalen, J et al. 2010. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. 
2. Daubenmier, J et al. 2011. Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study. 
3. Kristeller, J.L. & Epel, E., 2014. Mindful eating and mindless eating: the science and the practice. 
4. Dibb-Smith, A.E et al. 2019. A mixed-methods investigation of psychological factors relevant to weight maintenance. 
5.  Schnepper, R et al. 2019. A combined mindfulness–prolonged chewing intervention reduces body weight, food craving, and emotional eating.