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Did you expect us to have a “great” challenge for you, in which you work till you bleed every day for a month, keep your food intake to a minimum and result in a sexy swimsuit body? Then sorry we will disappoint you. Such an approach is often drastically restrictive, unhealthy and unsustainable in the long run. The weight you lose will often return very quickly and quite possibly with some extra fat. Today, therefore, we will not deal with what you eat, but will focus on how you eat.
Do you happen to go to the pantry to get a biscuit to eat with your coffee, and end up eating it before you sit down at the table? Or do you regularly have lunch at your computer without giving the food full concentration? Then you should get acquainted with mindful eating, which will help you look at food with fresh eyes. And most likely, its application will have a positive effect on your figure too.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a concept associated with the philosophy of mindfulness, an approach that focuses on the present moment and awareness of your current feelings, thoughts and physical sensations. Each of us can bring these practices to the diet sector and improve our overall habits. Whether you are going to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, you should always pay full attention to the course. Otherwise, it is way too easy to down a lot more food than you actually need. We live in hurried times, when it’s normal for us to eat under pressure and any enjoyment of the meal is minimal in this case. But our diet is not just fuel for the body. It’s also a taste experience which is a shame to deprive yourself of. Your body is aware of the difference, too – it will treat you well if you consciously and thoroughly chew each mouthful rather than just devouring a whole sandwich in three minutes at the bus stop.  
What it’s not supposed to look like?
- Breakfast is on the table in the kitchen and you slowly nibble at it when dressing, packing things into a bag, or whilst putting on your makeup. If you’re running late, you’re still eating it while driving in your car on the way to work.
- You can drink a liquid snack in the morning on the way to a meeting.
- You eat lunch in the office whilst processing emails and other computer work. For the rest of the day, you are fishing out crumbs from the keyboard.
- In the afternoon, you come home hungry, open the pantry or refrigerator, and whilst standing, you devour ham, cheese, and whatever you can get your hands on without even sitting down.
- Dinner is eaten on the couch whilst watching the news, sitcoms or sports broadcasts.
- During the evening lie down to a thrilling movie, and unconsciously down a packet of chips and a few glasses of wine. Feeling heavy, you roll into bed to sleep because this merry-go-round awaits you again the following day.
What it should look like?
- You will get up 15 minutes early in the morning to have breakfast in peace. You will enjoy your meal in a comfortable place without a TV, radio, phone and other stimuli. This relaxing moment will kick-start a productive day.
- When have an important meeting ahead of you and you’re really pressed for time, you can replenish your energy with a liquid snack. You will set aside 5 minutes to drink it in peace, during which you will enjoy the creamy texture and vanilla flavour of a protein milkshake.
- The meeting went great. Before you go back to work on the computer, you’ll have lunch with your colleagues in the staffroom in peace. You eat slowly, chew each mouthful thoroughly, and even find that you are full before you finish your serving so you can save the rest of your food in the fridge for later.
- Once you’ve completed all your work, you’ll eat the rest of your lunch at work so you don’t waste food. You’re not in a hurry and not thinking about any other duties you have that day.
- You don’t need a snack when you get home from work because you just had the rest of your lunch, so you’re not hungry, so you’re going to do other activities.
- Eat dinner with your family. It’s your regular ritual that you keep. You’re in no hurry, sit at the table after you’ve finished eating and talking about what’s new. Then you move together to watch the evening news on television.
- Tonight whilst watching a move you will get a craving for chips. So you prepare a smaller serving in a bowl. You will eat this during the TV commercials, when you turn off the sound and picture for 10 minutes and devote yourself to eating your chips. Alternatively, supplement your chips with a glass of wine, which you also sip during the ad breaks. It will make you wonder what notes you taste in the wine and possibly, what type it might be.
- You go to bed with a pleasant feeling. You have more productive days ahead of you.
What are we trying to show? Even if you have a really busy day, it’s always possible to take at least a moment to pay full attention to your meal. At first glance, a person who does not eat in a hurry enjoys their food much more, they savour it, and it makes their day generally calmer. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have noticed another thing. When you eat the same foods, mindful eating can easily make you skip the afternoon fridge raid or reduce your portion of chips and wine, as happened in the example. If you follow these rules more often, you might even start to lose weight without having to make a significant effort.
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What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Now that you have an idea of what mindful eating is and how to use this method properly, let’s look at the benefits that will make you even more convinced of its positive influence.
1. May help to fight binge eating
In binge-eating, a person repeatedly becomes uncontrollably compelled to quickly consume an unusually large amount of food. These episodes are often associated with negative emotions or regrets from eating food. 
Based on the results of studies to date, mindful eating can affect both the frequency of binge-eating and their course. When the mindfulness method was involved in the lives of respondents who suffered from binge-eating, the number of episodes was reduced. If an episode had already occurred, one had not eaten as much food as before. According to the results of research on 18 obese women, the average frequency of overeating in relation to mindfulness decreased from 4 to 1.5 times per week. This is a considerable drop. The women studied also reported that the technique increased their control over food and in turn decreased the level of negative emotions, such as anxiety. [5-7]
2. May help to lose weight without having to be on a diet
This point is closely linked to the preceding one. By reducing the number of times we overeat and the amount of food eaten using mindfulness, people decreased the amount of binge-eating, their caloric intake was also reduced, which can help with weight loss. Indeed, this side effect was also observed among respondents in the research. [5-7]
However, weight loss due to mindfulness is not only associated with people who suffer from binge-eating. It can also work well within the general population, helping people to work with their emotions, reduce stress and also allow them to recognize both hunger and satiety. Indeed, we have shown this in the example of good and bad eating. If a person can read their body’s signals, they become satiated before finishing their meal, which saves them putting on calories when they stop eating at any given time. With this approach, they can gradually lose weight without having to make any other major dietary changes in their life. 
You will find more tips on how to lose weight in the article 15 Tips On How to Lose Weight, Start Exercising and Eat Healthily.
3. You will feel much better
If you eat in a hurry, swallowing larger chunks of food as well as large amounts of air, the body is more likely to have a problem digesting it. In addition, you are likely to experience indigestion such as bloating, distended stomach or pain. If you learn to eat slowly and chew your food sufficiently, these problems can improve. 
Equally, mindful eating can also help with fatigue and sleepy after eating. These feelings usually occur after eating a large serving of heavy food or a larger serving of carbohydrates. These cause a higher release of insulin and hence a sharp decrease in blood glucose, causing fatigue. The release of insulin may lead to more tryptophan reaching the brain. This affects the production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which again may be linked to the development of lows and fatigue. If you learn to recognize the sensation of satiety, it’s not likely to occur that your meal will cause a low. It will also help if you learn to listen to your body and see how carbohydrates make you feel in general. If larger servings make you feel bad, reduce the amount and replace it with protein or fat. In this way, you will learn to include foods that make you feel great. [9-10]
Physical feelings go hand in hand with our psyche. Do you feel better with indigestion and tired after eating, or would you rather be pleasantly satiated, full of energy and without the feeling of a bloated belly? I guess the answer is obvious. A better mental state may also have to do with having food control and not letting emotions control you, which mindfulness also helps with. 
For more tips on how to deal with stress, refer to the article Why Is Stress Dangerous and How To Reduce It?
4. You will look better
The way you eat can also greatly affect how you look. Do you work out and still have a bulging belly? It may well have to do withdigestive problems, which you can get rid of through mindful eating.
It is equally likely that your weight will decrease, as you will better recognize the feeling of satiety and have greater control over emotional eating. In addition to a slimmer build and a flatter belly, however, the total positive energy you exude can also change. With a higher self-esteem and a better mood, it makes you look better, doesn’t it?
5. You will enjoy your food much more
So far, have you distinguished between your food just by whether you like it or not? Then it is quite possible that mindful eating will give your consumption a whole new dimension. Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth and savour all the flavours and aromas. Do likewise with every food you eat.
With up to 10,000 taste buds on your tongue, it would be a shame to ignore their taste recognition ability. 
Start by analysing your habits and discover your dietary deficiencies
Want to try mindful eating too? Make a new way of eating a challenge for yourself that will change your approach to food for good. Before you go ahead, create an analysis of your eating habits.
Try writing down for a few days:
- what you eat
- when you eat
- where you eat
- how long does it take you to eat
- who you eat with
- how do you feel during and after eating (hungry, satiated, tired etc.)
- how did you savour the food you were eating
- if you experience any indigestion
With these notes, you can discover the gaps in your meals that need to be worked on. Comparing your habits with the good and bad examples discussed above can also help. This allows you to create a monthly eating challenge tailored to your body. Only then will you get the most out of it and maintain it in the long term.
How to eat mindfully? Start your own eating challenge
We understand that it may well not be in your power to change all your eating habits from one day to the next and set aside more time for meals at all times. If you’ve analysed your diet, you can certainly estimate where you have the biggest gaps and what you can do about it. Include these changes naturally and gradually.
What might it look like?
- For the first week, try to eat without your phone, computer or TV.
- For the next week, increase the amount of time you spend eating your food and focus more on individual tastes and textures.
- For the third week, try to focus more on your body’s signals. Learn to identify when you’re hungry and when you’re full and time to put down your cutlery.
- For the fourth week, devote yourself to maintaining these rules.
Everyone has a different starting point, different food you consume and the eating habits associated with it. The previous point, where you will write down your eating habits, will help you discover them. After that, it’s up to each of us to set our own “rules” and challenges to get to the point where you can eat in peace, without perceiving the surrounding stimuli, enjoy your food, and learn to recognize you body’s signals.
For simplicity, you can start to gradually include the following into your life:
1. When you are eating focus only on your food
Try to plan your day so that you always have the opportunity to devote plenty of time to your food and meal times. Turn off your TV, radio, computer and phone and put off work duties. Even a book is not a good food companion. Its plot could draw you in so much that you don’t even realize what you’ve already eaten. Enjoy your meal in silence and alone, possibly with your loved ones.
2. Eat slowly
Choose foods that need to be chewed. You’ll avoid downing a smoothie in a few minutes that’s the same number of calories as a lunch plate, but not too filling. The general advice is to chew each mouthful approximately 20-30 times before swallowing. Don’t worry, no one is asking you for exact numbers, of course. However, they can serve as a guide. You might as well try to match your pace of eating with other people at the table. You’ve already eaten half your meal and the others have only had a few mouthfuls? Try to slow the tempo a little. Cut smaller pieces, put down your cutlery, drink and contribute to the conversation. In time, slower eating will be a matter of course for you. 
Also, remember that it takes the body up to 20 minutes to send a message that it is full. If you stretch your consumption time, you may well eat a smaller serving than usual because you will already be full, which can reduce your overall energy intake and make it easier to lose weight. 
3. Savour your food
When somebody close to you tells you something, it’s not polite not to pay attention to it and do something else. The food that you or someone else has lovingly prepared deserves the same attention. Savour its temperature, texture and taste. Perhaps you’ll discover new tones in it that you’ve previously never tasted. Be aware of every mouthful that you swallow. It makes it easier to tell when you’re full. Maybe then, at your favourite fast-food joint, three chicken wings will be enough to make you full, and you won’t eat a whole bucket as you usually might.
4. Learn to recognise when you are hungry and when you are satiated
There is a crucial ability associated with mindful eating, which is to be able to read your body’s signals. Can you tell when you’re hungry and when you’re full? You may no longer even be aware of these signals, and running on automatic – it’s 12 o’clock, which is lunchtime, so I’ll eat and eat everything on my plate, and move on. However, this is not the right approach in this case. Try to be more open to these signals and deliberately go and eat only when you are really hungry. Maybe an hour later. It doesn’t matter.
If your lunch at noon is forced by social rules, when you are used to eating with colleagues, adjust your other meals accordingly. If you’re not regularly hungry at 12 o’clock, try skipping your mid-morning snack or having a small portion of breakfast. This will ensure that your body starts to crave more food sooner. At lunch, stick to the rules we described above. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and stop eating when you feel about 80% satiated. This way you avoid overeating and subsequent low after eating. And if you’re sorry to throw away the rest of your food, have it packed to take away with you and eat it as a snack or for dinner.
5. Observe how you feel after eating
Just as your body signals hunger or satiety, it can also indicate which foods make it feel good and which foods don’t.
- Would you load yourself up with a huge serving of porridge in the morning and then be ready to go back to bed? Reduce the portion size and replace some of the carbohydrates with protein or fat.
- You eat fried cheese and large fries at a fast food joint, and for the rest of the day, you feel heavy and your stomach hurts? Try a half portion next time, or choose a different meal.
If you learn to read these body signals, it will help you make better conscious choices about what you want to eat. Food is supposed to be a source of energy, and no one wants to feel bad after eating it.
Keep in mind that the right choice of food begins with the purchase. If you fill your pantry with just chips, sweets and ultra-processed foods, it’s hard to build your diet on balanced dishes with enough fruit, vegetables and the nutrients you need.
If you don’t know how to shop and make healthy purchases, the article 7 Tips On How To Properly Select and Buy Groceries may help.
What should you remember?
Maybe mindful eating seems a little too complicated to begin with. If you think about it, however, you will find that these are natural principles that you should take as automatic. But you may well be forgetting them because of the fast pace of life and the endless stimuli that are all around us. But these are very common things. Eating when you’re hungry, stopping eating when you’re full, concentrating on your food, chewing enough, or avoiding foods that make you unwell. Make mindful eating your own challenge, tailored to your current eating habits. You can start with the next meal. You will see for yourself that you will soon feel the positive benefits of this diet.
How are you with food? Do you rank among those who enjoy every bite, or do you eat lunch at great speed and have no idea what it tasted like? Share your experiences with us in the comments section, and if you liked the article, don’t forget to share it among your friends. I’m sure they’ll also be happy to join you in this non-traditional eating challenge.
 8 steps to mindful eating – https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating
 Krista Scott-Dixon, PhD The 30-day eating challenge that can blow your mind—and transform your body. – https://www.precisionnutrition.com/30-day-eating-challenge-level-1
 Jan Chozen Bays Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food – https://books.google.cz/books?hl=cs&lr=&id=d2l8ra_fpYMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=mindful+eating+what+is&ots=OuNWcFAfUw&sig=c_uuf6Q2CNgQul9wjINSUfXA6qE&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=mindful%20eating%20what%20is&f=false
 Zafra Cooper and Christopher G. Fairburn Refining the Definition of Binge Eating Disorderand Nonpurging Bulimia Nervosa – https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/eat.10208
 Shawn N.Katterman et al. – Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471015314000191
 G A O'Reilly Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24636206/
 JL Kristeller, CB Hallett An Exploratory Study of a Meditation-based Intervention for Binge Eating Disorder – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22021603/
 Jennifer Daubenmier et al. – Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21977314/
 Richard J Wurtman et al. – Effects of normal meals rich in carbohydrates or proteins on plasma tryptophan and tyrosine ratios – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12499331/
 Taste Disorders – https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taste-disorders
 Jezte pomaleji, zhubnete – https://www.vimcojim.cz/magazin/clanky/o-vyzive/Jezte-pomaleji,-zhubnete__s10010x7890.html