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Science Explains Why Attentive Eating Matters

Mindfulness is the difference between eating and savoring.

For many people, trying to lose weight is an uphill battle that is often lost. Perhaps the most common way to attempt to lose weight is by counting the calories of food. That being said, constantly keeping track of calories can be tiresome and almost a job in itself.

Even if you have an app that helps, having to insert every food you ate, as well as to estimate how much of it you actually ate without actually weighing the food, can be discouraging after a while.

If you have struggled to keep the weight off after losing some, you are not alone. This study suggests that while short-term diet solutions might be working, long-term solutions are more difficult to come by. This can create a yo-yo effect of constantly losing and regaining weight, often with no real permanent loss occurring. This can be extremely discouraging and can make weight loss seem like an unreachable goal.

While the situation might seem bleak, there may be light on the horizon. According to this meta-analysis, there may be an easier way to keep food intake in check than simply counting your calories. The conclusion of the study found that attentive eating was actually likely to influence the amount of food you ate, and that the application of this method may actually be an alternative route to maintain a healthy weight, rather than actively counting the calories.

So, how did the study actually work? The meta-analysis examined 24 studies that dealt with how attentiveness, in different modes, affected how much was consumed. They then used certain calculations to actually interact with the studies' results. What the results found was interesting.

iStock-836441928istockphoto.com/undrey

According to the study, the meta-analysis found that people who ate while distracted tend to have a moderate increase in food consumption. That being said, consuming while distracted appeared to increase later food intake even more. The study also found that enhancing the memory of the food eaten may reduce later food consumption, though this may be affected by a different factor as well.

Interestingly enough, not being able to see the amount of food eaten actually increased the the amount eaten immediately. All this being said, the meta-analysis did not find conclusive results indicating that enhancing your awareness of the food you are consuming actually made you eat less.

So, how should all these results from the research effect how you eat your food? Well, for one, it would seem that if you want to lose weight you should avoid mindless food intake. This can happen so easily, as so many events that we participate in involve food in some way. Think about popcorn or chips during a movie, or hot-dogs and nachos at a game. Because certain events are associated with food, especially snacks, it can be easy to mindlessly munch through a whole bag of chips or carton of ice cream during a show.

So how can you avoid mindlessly munching on food during events? First, simply be aware off the urge. Being aware of the issue is the first step in properly resolving it. Second, try snacking on healthy alternatives to the food people typically snack on, which is usually junk food to begin with.

Try slicing up red and yellow peppers, as these can be a very tasty alternative. You could also try an apple, or even apple slices with some peanut butter. Even air-pooped popcorn can be a healthier option than chips or soda.

In the end, it pays to simply be mindful about what you are consuming and different activities that trigger you to consume food. As the studies show, it is easy to eat too much while being distracted. You can help combat this, and help keep the weight off, by either cutting this type of food intake out or by substituting healthier alternatives to junk food.

If you liked this article, don't be afraid to spread this article to friends and family. This information can help people who are struggling to maintain and lower their weight. If you liked this post, or even if you didn't, give us your opinion on the article. We appreciate your feedback!

What's your favorite way to practice mindfulness?