Mindful eating improves weight loss and eating habits

Diets come and go, yet few offer any real long-term solution for weight loss and weight maintenance. One very simple strategy to help with weight loss, so simple that it puts to shame many complex dietary recommendations, is to be more mindful when it comes to eating.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment and letting thoughts and feelings come and go without providing judgement. Focussing on what is currently being eaten, removing distractions such as television-watching at meal times, chewing thoughtfully and savouring the taste of food as it is eaten slowly are all ways to eat more mindfully.

How effective attentive eating can be was the subject of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis. From 18 studies examined, the findings were in favour of mindful eating being able to help with weight loss. An average of three kilograms was lost from being involved in a mindful eating program and this weight loss was maintained when people were followed up after the study finished.

On top of the weight loss, there was also an improvement in eating behaviours such as emotional eating, stress eating and non-hungry eating which are linked to obesity.

Implications

Mindful eating can play a small, but important part in helping to lose and maintain weight while at the same time promoting positive eating behaviours.

References

Carrière K et al. Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews 2018;19:164-177.