Weight Loss

Mindful Eating: The Key to Healthy Weight Loss

Key Takeaways

Key takeaways:

  • Mindful eating not only aids weight management but also improves psychological well-being and builds a healthier relationship with food.
  • Practice mindfulness to understand the triggers behind cravings, differentiate emotional from physical hunger, and foster better eating habits.
  • Try exercises like the raisin exercise, mindful eating meditation, and hunger awareness to enhance your mindful eating journey.


Our relationship with food can become detached or distorted, leading to all sorts of problematic eating habits like unconscious eating, binge eating, and compulsive eating. 

Luckily, there's a strategy that can help many people regain control over their eating habits and promote healthier choices: mindful eating. Mindful eating aims to re-attach our mind and body to the food we need to nourish and support our well-being.

Habitual eating and mindfulness

We’re hardwired to eat — it’s what keeps us alive.

However, our eating habits can be volatile and are subject to changes and fluctuations, especially when we experience stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, or other psychological difficulties. Here are some commonly problematic eating patterns.

Compulsive eating

Whether it's consuming large amounts, eating without paying attention, or feeling unable to resist the urge to eat, these behaviours have the potential to lead to health concerns and possibly difficulty with weight management in some people. 

Mindful eating may be helpful for many people. By paying full attention to eating, recognizing why you are eating and acknowledging your emotions, you may recognize patterns in your eating and may help you to notice hunger and fullness signals.

How can eating mindfully help manage food cravings?

Food cravings are a natural part of our biology and can be both physical and psychological. There are many hormones and parts of the brain involved in the complex process that leads to cravings. And like most naturally occurring things, the intensity of cravings varies significantly between different people.

Additionally, there are some medical conditions, like nutritional deficiencies, that cause certain specific and recurrent cravings. When you notice a craving, mindfulness encourages you to pause and explore the craving non-judgmentally. 

Ask yourself: what am I really feeling? Am I truly hungry, or is this craving? Is the craving triggered by boredom, stress, other emotions, a food stimulus (seeing, talking or smelling food), or a medical condition? 

Eating behaviours are frequently tied to another experience like boredom, or stress. By practicing mindful eating, you may be able to learn to distinguish physical hunger from emotional hunger.

This can often connect you to the emotional states that can trigger and fuel habits. While mindfulness may not reduce those emotional states, it will help you understand how they may be impacting your eating behaviours.

How to eat mindfully to lose weight

Mindful eating is about being fully present and attentive before, during, and after eating. It encourages a deeper understanding of our body's hunger and fullness cues, helping us to eat food in a healthy, natural, and conscious way.

To eat mindfully, start by reducing distractions during mealtime. For example, switch off your television and put your phone away. 

Focus on the meal before you — acknowledge the flavours, textures, and aromas. Pay attention to your body's signals of hunger and fullness. Take time to chew your food thoroughly and focus on eating. 

Consider keeping a food diary to help you understand your eating habits and identify patterns, such as emotional eating or stress-induced cravings.

What are some mindful eating exercises to try?

Here are three exercises and techniques to kickstart your mindful eating journey:

The raisin exercise

The raisin exercise is a classic mindful eating exercise. While it's traditionally done with a raisin, you can use any small piece of food (though ideally something healthy!). 

  • Observe: Look at the raisin closely, observing its unique shape, colour, and texture.
  • Touch: Roll the raisin between your fingers, feeling its texture and shape.
  • Smell: Bring the raisin to your nose and take a moment to smell its aroma.
  • Place: Put the raisin in your mouth, but don't chew it yet. Notice how your mouth responds.
  • Taste: Chew the raisin slowly, noting the flavours that are released.
  • Swallow: When you're ready, swallow the raisin, following it mentally as it travels down to your stomach.

By engaging all your senses in the eating process, this exercise trains your brain to focus on the act of eating and savouring the experience. It might seem unusual or even weird — especially if you don’t like raisins — so be sure to choose something you like!

Mindful eating meditation

This exercise combines mindfulness meditation with eating. The purpose is to enhance your appreciation of food and make eating a more conscious and thought-provoking experience. 

  • Preparation: Sit comfortably and place a small amount of food on a plate. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm your mind.
  • Appreciation: Open your eyes and look at your food. Express gratitude for it, thinking about all the effort that went into its production and preparation. For example, if you cooked the meal, consider the effort you put into it.
  • Eating: Slowly eat your food, focusing on the flavours, textures, and sensations.
  • Reflection: After finishing your meal, reflect on the experience and your feelings of fullness and satisfaction.

Mindful eating meditation exercises emphasize the enjoyment of eating and foster a deeper connection between your mind, body, and food. While it may seem convoluted — especially to those with no meditation experience — it only takes a few moments. The more you practice, the easier it will become.

Hunger awareness

Hunger awareness is a powerful tool for tuning into your body's natural cues, informing you when you need to eat for your physical health and mental wellbeing rather than as a result of an emotional cue or a food stimulus. 

  • Check-in: Before eating, pause and check in with your body. How hungry are you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "not hungry at all" and 10 being "extremely hungry"?
  • Mindful eating: Eat your meal mindfully, paying attention to the taste and texture of your food and how your feelings of hunger change as you eat.
  • Re-evaluate: After eating, rate your fullness on the same 1 to 10 scale. How do you feel? Are you comfortably full, still hungry, or uncomfortably full?
  • Reflect: Use this information to inform your future eating decisions. Over time, this practice can help you become more attuned to your body's hunger and fullness cues.

Remember, mindful eating is a journey, not a destination. These exercises are not about achieving perfection but about practicing awareness and patience with yourself as you learn to eat more mindfully.

Does mindful eating work?

Harvard Health gives an overview of some of the studies done in recent decades and highlights the following benefits of mindful eating:

Weight management

Mindful eating can support weight management by helping you pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, reducing overeating. 

Improved eating habits

Mindful eating can help break unhealthy eating patterns such as emotional eating and binge eating. It encourages you to pause and consider why you're eating before you begin eating, which can help you make conscious food and eating choices.

Improved physical health

Mindful eating can lead to better nutritional choices and improved physical health. You're more likely to choose and enjoy nourishing foods by slowing down and savoring your food.

Psychological benefits

By encouraging a non-judgmental approach to food and eating, mindful eating may help reduce food-related guilt and anxiety. Studies have found mindful eating promotes a healthier relationship with food, and may improve overall psychological well-being.

Is mindful eating the same as intuitive eating?

While mindful eating and intuitive eating share similarities, they're not the same. Both approaches encourage a focus on internal cues rather than external dietary rules, but intuitive eating goes a step further.

Intuitive eating was developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. It’s more all-encompassing and complex than mindful eating, with a 10-principle framework:

  1. Rejecting the diet mentality
  2. Making peace with food
  3. Honouring your hunger
  4. Feeling fullness
  5. Discovering satisfaction from food
  6. Ignoring diet fads
  7. Coping with emotions without food
  8. Respecting your body
  9. Exercising
  10. Nutrition

In essence, intuitive eating is about distinguishing between the emotional and the physical cues of our bodies. It shares themes with mindful eating but is a little more philosophical, which may appeal to some.


Mindful eating offers one way to connect your mind and body to your eating behaviours and your food relationship. It involves paying full attention to your eating experiences. This thoughtful approach to eating can help with unconscious eating patterns, which may help with weight management and overall health and well-being.

The beauty of mindful eating is that it's accessible to everyone, anywhere, at any time. Practice makes perfect — keeping track of your mindful eating habits can help you to assess and re-address them periodically.

At Felix, we provide a holistic program that includes not only weight loss medication but a sustainable weight management course that incorporates both mindful eating and intuitive eating principles.

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