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To Lose Weight, “Be Present” (vs. Distracted) During Mealtime

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

Want to feel more satisfied after meals? You can, if you put your mind to it.

Eating mindfully, which can mean everything from simply noticing what you’re putting in your mouth to practicing stress reduction techniques to help end stress eating, can really help. When you become a more mindful eater, you savor, enjoy, and remember fondly each bite and sip of your meal. The end result: You’ll feel more satisfied and less likely to rummage around for more food.

mindful eating

In a recent University of Southern California review of 21 mindful eating studies, 18 of them helped improve in eating habits, cut calorie intake, and reduced bingeing.

There are entire books on the subject, so I won’t attempt to cover every aspect. Instead, here are my top five strategies; they work for me—and have helped people who’ve come to me for nutritional counseling.

  • Identify why you’re eating or drinking. Is it because you’re actually hungry? (Rating your hunger for a week can be an eye-opener.) Or are you eating because you’re bored, stressed, or have another emotional trigger? Is it just habit (as in “I always have a 3 p.m. snack.)? Name the reason without judgment or guilt; these negative emotions can stress you out, driving you to overeat even more.
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Mid-Morning Snacking May Hinder Weight Loss

Although snacking has been shown to be beneficial for many trying to lose weight, timing and snack quality play a large role in how beneficial snacks can be when weight loss is desired.

A 12 month long study found that overweight to obese postmenopausal women dieters who ate a healthy breakfast followed by a mid-morning snack lost 7% of their body weight while those who did not snack in between breakfast and lunch lost, on average, 11% of their body weight by the end of the study. This may make it seem like the effects of snacking are time dependent; however, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, why you eat when you do may be more important then the actual time of day you decide to snack.

This makes sense because, in reality, snacking doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. In fact, this study went on to show that while mid-morning snackers may not lose as much weight as their snacking counterparts, those who snacked in the afternoon were more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and those snacking two times or more a day were able to get more fiber than others.


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