Do You Typically Eat Your Meals While Watching TV, Working On Your Laptop, or Browsing on Your Phone?

If so, this unhealthy habit might prevent you from going through life with an eye-catching figure, one that gives you confidence wherever you may be. 

Why? Because mindless eating can make you consume hundreds (if not thousands) of extra calories, especially from junk food.

(So, this is a habit that wreaks havoc not only on your body shape but also on your health and longevity.)

Fortunately, you can bring awareness to your meals immediately with a few proven but simple tips.

And in this article, we’ll have them laid out for you. So read on to unleash the powerful effects of mindful eating.

What Is Mindful Eating?

Mindfulness is a concept that originates from Buddhism. It refers to bringing attention to the experiences of the present moment [1].

Mindful eating, therefore, means you give your full attention to the sensation of eating. This includes your emotions and physical feelings such as satiety, taste, smell, and visual impact.

Bringing awareness helps replace automatic behaviour with more conscious thoughts and reactions.

As a result, you’ll appreciate your meal more, make healthier food choices, and possibly even drop off unwanted body fat [2-4].

Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

If you want to slim down, the odds are not in your favour: 85% of the people who shed fat rebound to their previous weight within a year [5].

There are various reasons why this happens. Binge eating and emotional eating are two important ones [6-7]. Both go hand in hand with a high calorie take and the resulting increase in body weight.

  • Emotional eating: Consuming energy in response to emotions; using food to make yourself feel better.
  • Binge eating: Consumption of abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop eating.

Fortunately, mindful eating can prevent your fat loss efforts from going down the drain. It significantly reduces the frequency and severity of binge or emotional eating [8-9].

That’s one of the reasons why mindful eating aids fat loss and prevents you from rebounding.

For example, participants involved in a mindful eating seminar lost an average of 12 kg after six months [10]. What’s more, they didn’t regain the weight in the following three months.

Another mindful eating seminar found similar results. Over six weeks, obese individuals followed a weekly two-hour group class on mindful eating [3]. As a result, the participants lost, on average, 4 kg.

Impressive, especially since the subjects made no other conscious adjustments to their diet – they only did a set of exercises that increased awareness while eating.

As you can see from the studies above, mindful eating can yield spectacular weight loss results.

So, let us introduce you to four mindful eating tricks proven to work. By making a habit of following these behaviours, you’ll unconsciously slash your daily calorie intake. 

This will benefit your efforts to destroy unwanted body fat and thus achieve a lean figure.

1. Avoid Distractions

Nowadays, most meals are eaten in front of a screen – we must send that urgent email, text that funny cat video to our friends, or catch up on the latest episode of our favourite TV series.

Yes, we live in a fast-paced world, but guess what: such behaviour might secretly be wreaking havoc on your body shape.

Why? Because eating while surrounded by distractions automatically makes you consume more food.

One meta-analysis found that people consume 10% more calories when eating distracted [11]. And this number rises to 25% when people are distracted while having their evening meal. 

Thereby, one efficient way to slash the number of calories you consume – and so aid your fat loss efforts – is by eliminating all distractions while eating.

This means taking the time to sit down, turning off the TV and laptop, putting down your phone, and eating in silence. Direct your attention to the present moment and focus on the sensations the food creates.

2. Slow Down

Did you know you can significantly decrease your food and calorie intake by eating more slowly?

It’s true. People with a healthy body weight tend to take more time to chew and swallow their food than those who are overweight [12-13]. Hence, those who eat fast are 115% more likely to be obese [14].

Why’s that? Because it takes time for your body to adjust hormones that promote the feeling of fullness. The most important ones are ghrelin, peptide YY, GLP-1, and cholecystokinin [15].

Interestingly, the process of adjusting those hormones takes around twenty minutes. That’s why one efficient way to reduce your calorie intake is by chewing longer.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition clearly demonstrates this [16]. 

The researchers found that those who chewed a piece of pork 40 times before swallowing consumed 11.9% fewer calories on average than those who chewed 15 times.

There are a few things you can do to decrease your eating speed. First off, make a conscious effort to be aware of how many times you chew. Aim for chewing each bite at least thirty times before swallowing.

Second, set a timer to twenty minutes and take that time to finish your meal. 

Third, use chopsticks or eat with your non-dominant hand. Either will lower your speed of eating. Putting the fork down between bites also helps.

3. Ask Yourself One Critical Question

Before you reach for your next meal, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Many times, we don’t eat to nourish our body but to cope with emotions.

The most common emotions that influence eating patterns are boredom, stress, frustration, sadness, loneliness, and exhaustion.

Because emotional cravings can be powerful, you must know the difference between physical and emotional hunger. The following are the six main distinctions.

First off, physical hunger builds up gradually while emotional hunger appears all of a sudden, most often in response to a specific event. 

Secondly, when you experience physical hunger, almost any food will satisfy your needs. This doesn’t hold true for emotion-triggered cravings. Those are usually tied to specific comfort foods such as chocolate, cheese, pizza, or brownies.

In the third place, physical hunger cravings reside in your stomach while emotional ones are in your head.

Fourth, physical hunger is satisfied when you eat enough. Emotional hunger, one the other hand, makes you want more and more, even when your stomach is full.

Fifth, emotional hunger is often accompanied by feelings of regret, guilt, and shame after your meal. This is less likely to be the case with physical hunger.

And finally, physical hunger often pairs with mindful eating. Emotional hunger, however, usually lead to mindless eating. Before you realise it, you’ve devoured the whole chocolate bar. 

Those are the six main differences. When cravings pop up, check what kind of hunger it is. If your desires are emotion-based, here’s what to do:

First off, identify the trigger. Is it a specific event or emotion that pushes your hunger button? If so, try to adjust your lifestyle to prevent them from happening in the future.

For example, a common trigger is stress. Many people reach for junk food to cope with a stressful event. What you should do instead is consider how you can prevent this situation in the first place.

If it’s not possible to eliminate the trigger, find an alternative response. For instance, instead of reaching for junk food, focus on your breath or take a brisk walk. 

Another powerful technique is the five-minute rule. Before you give in to the temptation, wait for five minutes before jumping on food.

During those five minutes, reflect on how you feel, revisit the reasons why you want to reach your fitness goals, and evaluate whether short-term gratification is worth jeopardizing your long-term objectives.

What you’ll most likely find is that the cravings have waned in strength. They might even be entirely gone. 

4. Practice Mindful Shopping

Let’s be honest: once junk food lands in your closet, the temptation to indulge in a bite (or binge on thousands of calories) can become overwhelming.

Therefore, one of the best ways to keep your weight in check is by making sure you don’t take junk food home.

You do so with mindful shopping – bringing awareness to your shopping patterns. The following two tips will help.

First off, create a shopping list. It is linked to eating healthier and maintaining lower body weight [17].

The reason is that it makes you conscious of your shopping behaviour. This suppresses impulsive food picks, which are usually high in calories.

Secondly, don’t buy groceries on an empty stomach. Shopping hungry tends to leave your basket full of high-calorie foods [18]. So, have a meal before you head to the store.

The Bottom Line on Mindless Eating

We live in a fast-paced world. As a result, most meals are eaten in front of a screen or while engaged in another activity.

Don’t let that be you! By now, you know that mindless eating increases junk food consumption, makes you eat more calories, and affects negatively your body shape.

So turn the four proven tips outlined above into a habit, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your ideal body. Good luck!


1. Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mindfulness Interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 3;68, 491-516.

2. Robinson, E., Aveyard, P., Daley, A., Jolly, K., Lewis, A., Lycett, D., & Higgs, S. (2013). Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 728-42.

3. Dalen, J., Smith, B. W., Shelley, B. M., Sloan, A. L., Leahigh, L., & Begay, D. (2010). Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 18(6), 260-4.

4. Kristeller, J. L., & Hallett, C. B. (1999). An Exploratory Study of a Meditation-based Intervention for Binge Eating Disorder. Journal of Health Psychology: 4(3), 357-63.

5. Ayyad, C., & Andersen, T. (2000). Long-term efficacy of dietary treatment of obesity: a systematic review of studies published between 1931 and 1999. Obesity Reviews, 1(2), 113-9.

6. Stunkard, A. J., & Allison, K. C. (2003). Two forms of disordered eating in obesity: binge eating and night eating. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 27(1), 1-12.

7. Koenders, P. G., & Van Strien, T. (2011). Emotional eating, rather than lifestyle behavior, drives weight gain in a prospective study in 1562 employees. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(11), 1287-93.

8. Katterman, S. N., Kleinman, B. M., Hood, M. M., Nackers, L. M., & Corsica, J. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 197-204.

9. O’Reilly, G. A., Cook, L., Spruijt-Metz, D., & Blacks, D. S. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review. Obesity Reviews, 15(6), 453-61.

10. Niemeier, H. M., Leahey, T., Palm Reed, K., Brown, R. A., & Wing, R. R. (2012). An acceptance-based behavioral intervention for weight loss: a pilot study. Behavior Therapy, 43(2), 427-35.

11. Robinson, E., Aveyard, P., Daley, A., Jolly, K., Lewis, A., Lycett, D., & Higgs, S. (2013). Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 728-42.

12.  Maruyama, K., Sato, S., Ohira, T., Maeda, K., Noda, H., Kubota, Y., . . . Iso, H. (2008). The joint impact on being overweight of self reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full: cross sectional survey. BMJ, 21;337, 2002.

13. He, Q., Ding, Z. Y., Fong, D. Y., & Karlberg, J. (2000). Risk factors of obesity in preschool children in China: a population-based case–control study. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 24(11), 1528-36.

14. Leong, S. L., Madden, C., Gray, A., Waters, D., & Horwath, C. (2011). Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. Journal of The American Dietetic Association, 111(8), 1192-7.

15. Bewick, G. A. (2012). Bowels control brain: gut hormones and obesity. Biochemical Medicine, 22(3), 283-97.

16. Li, J., Zhang, N., Hu, L., Li, Z., Li, R., Li, C., & Wang, S. (2011). Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(3), 709-16.

17. Dubowitz, T., Cohen, D. A., Huang, C. Y., Beckman, R. A., & Collins, R. L. (2015). Using a Grocery List Is Associated With a Healthier Diet and Lower BMI Among Very High-Risk Adults. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 47(3), 259-64.

18. Tal, A., & Wansink, B. (2013). Fattening fasting: hungry grocery shoppers buy more calories, not more food. JAMA Internal Medicine, 24;173(12), 1146-8.

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