Each week, we’ll highlight some of our favorite healthy habits and the benefits behind them. We’ll also share a quick and simple tip from Heather Lake, a Jenny Craig Health & Lifestyle Contributor, to help support your weight loss goals and inspire you throughout the day! This 12-week series will focus on everything from how to eat mindfully to delicious ways to incorporate more protein into your meals.
Hi, I’m Heather Lake, a health and lifestyle contributor for Jenny Craig. Here’s your healthy tip for the week: Eat mindfully! In today’s modern world, as we find ourselves constantly connected to devices, it’s easy to get distracted from the food in front of us and then, we tend to overeat. So, try disconnecting from your devices and practicing mindfulness by being in the moment: What are you eating and how does it taste? Take the time to look at your surroundings so you can tune in to how you feel as you enjoy your food.
What is mindful eating?
Eating mindfully encourages you to enjoy your meal in the moment, free from distractions. Mindful eating could help you to eat more intentionally — you’ll pay attention to your food and learn to appreciate the entire experience. And not only will you focus on enjoying your food, mindful eating can also help you to become more aware of when you feel comfortably full. It may take a little practice to recognize feelings of fullness, but they’re a great tool to help prevent over- or under-eating at mealtimes.
Photo by dusanpetkovic on iStock
To practice mindful eating, let your senses lead the way. When you take a bite of your food, consider:
- The appearance. Appreciate how the food looks on your plate. Are the ingredients bright and colorful? If you’re enjoying a meal, do you have a balanced plate that includes each of the three macronutrients? (These easy food plating tips could make your meal taste even better!)
- The aroma. What ingredients have the strongest scent? Can you tell them apart?
- The texture. Take a bite and chew slowly. Is it crispy? Soft? Smooth?
- The flavor. What do you taste? How do the aroma and texture of your food influence the flavor?
Taking a moment to identify different elements of the meal you’re about to eat helps you to savor the food in front of you. Not only could it boost your enjoyment of a meal, but mindfulness may also be associated with other health benefits.
4 mindful eating benefits
- It may support weight loss. In one study, individuals who attended group sessions and learned mindful eating strategies lost a little over six pounds, compared to a control group that did not receive the same training.1
- It may help manage a sweet tooth. Another study found that increasing mindful eating was associated with a decrease in eating sweets.2 (Here are 10 other foolproof ways to reduce your sugar intake.)
- It could help you tune into your body. Mindful eating emphasizes paying attention to your senses and your feeling of fullness, which can be easy to ignore if you’re mindlessly munching.
- It may decrease emotional eating. Following mindfulness practices may be associated with less emotional eating styles, one study found.3
Here’s how to practice mindful eating, using six simple tips.
6 mindful eating tips
Before you eat …
- Check in with yourself. Before you eat, consider how you feel. Are you upset, stressed or bored? If the emotions you’re experiencing aren’t hunger-related, take time to healthily unwind before having your meal. According to experts at Harvard Health, stress can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that may increase your motivation to eat.4
- Consider how the meal got to your plate. It’s easy to eat food without thinking about where it came from, but a little imagination could help you to better appreciate your meal. Take a moment to pause and think about the way the food was grown and think about the care you or a loved one put into preparing it.
- Distance yourself from distractions. Turn off the TV, set your phone aside, and savor your meal with the company of friends and family. Check out these seven simple tips to help avoid mindless eating.
While you eat …
4. Savor every bite. Rather than rushing to finish your meal, try to slow down and enjoy your food. One study of individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes found that eating more slowly may help prevent obesity and the risk of associated health concerns.5
5. Pause for fullness. Before you go in for seconds, give your stomach some time to catch up. It could take up to 20 minutes for your brain to communicate to your stomach that you’re satisfied.6
6. Think about nourishment. The food you eat is the fuel you need to do all the activities you enjoy. The fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats and whole grains on your plate are filled with nutrients to help you feel and function at your best.
Use this helpful portion size infographic to create a healthy, balanced plate to support your weight loss goals.
Practicing mindful eating is a convenient strategy to help you to develop healthier eating habits. You can try mindful eating anywhere, whether you’re at home or out to eat. Take your time and give yourself the opportunity to experience your meal in a different way. A weight loss program with a delicious, balanced meal plan and a personal weight loss consultant is a great way to support mindfulness practices — and Jenny Craig can help!
Get started by choosing the Jenny Craig meal plan that fits your lifestyle.
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.