Mindful Eating: An Essential Piece to Weight Management

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Tina Patnode, RDN, LD

Many of us set new year resolutions of eating healthier and exercising more. Standard approaches to weight loss often involve restrictive eating, labeling foods as good or bad, and dictating how much and when to eat. 
 
Research shows that restrictive eating doesn’t result in reduced weight in the long run. The vast majority of people who restrict eating end up regaining the lost weight and as many as two-thirds ultimately regain more weight than they lost.
 
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating has emerged as a technique to help people achieve a more beneficial intake for the purpose of health in general as well as for supporting body weight regulation.
 
By practicing nonjudgmental awareness of internal and external cues, mindful eating pays close attention to the desire to eat, food choice, quantity of consumption, and the manner in which food is consumed.
 
There are several benefits of mindful eating such as:
  • Realizing the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation
  • Using all your senses to choose food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes, or neutral) without judgment
  • Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
 
According to The Center for Mindful Eating, the practice of mindful eating is larger than the eating process itself — it involves how a person views food in the context of health, vitality, and emotional well-being.
 
We Can Help 
The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist’s (RDN’s) role is supportive and incorporates evidence-based guidance. Dietitians often teach their clients the skills to learn how to use mindful eating techniques for successful weight management. 
 
One tool that is often used is the Hunger and Fullness Scale which can help you be more aware of internal cues of hunger and satiety. The scale ranges from zero (representing “starving”) to ten (representing “sick”) to describe how hungry you feel. It may take some time to learn how certain foods make you feel. 
 
Using this and other methods, we can help you develop a healthy relationship with food and learn to truly enjoy what you eat.