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Want to lose weight? Eat mindfully.

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Firminger

In a new research article being published in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Dr. Alan Kristal and colleagues found that people who eat mindfully (defined as those were aware of why they ate and stopped eating when full) are less likely to be obese.

The actual article describes the process of developing and validating a way to measure mindful eating. I find it interesting because it can be used as a guide to examine my own eating habits.

Kristal and colleagues ended up with 5 factors, or categories, of behaviors that were thought to comprise mindful eating. They were:

  • Disinhibition – this involves noticing when you are full and how much you eat. Negative examples would be agreeing to the following statements: “If there’s good food at a party, I’ll continue eating even after I’m full.” or “When I’m at a restaurant, I can tell when the portion I’ve been served is too large for me.”

  • Awareness – paying attention and appreciating the food you are eating. For instances, agreeing with the statement that “I taste every bite of food that I eat.” or “I notice when foods and drinks are too sweet.”

  • External cues – being aware of how situations trigger cravings or influence you to eat more. The researchers measured this based on peoples agreement with statements such as “I notice when just going into a movie theater makes me want to eat candy or popcorn.” or “I recognize when food advertisements make me want to eat.”

  • Emotional responses – do you eat for emotional reasons? would you say that “When I’m sad I eat to feel better.” or “When I’m feeling stressed at work I’ll go find something to eat.”

  • Distraction – this last category is another indicator of how much you pay attention to the eating process. For example, how much would you agree that “I think about things I need to do while I am eating.” or “I eat so quickly that I don’t taste what I’m eating.”

Some of the ideas I take away from this are means to reconnect with my body and my food during the eating process, including:

  • Eat enough but not more – Learn how much food I need to
    eat in order to be satiated or satisfied, but not so much as to be
    full. Be aware of what being full feels like and do not eat beyond that

  • Love my food – Look at it, smell it, savor it. Enjoy every moment of eating it and take my time.

  • Don’t be seduced
    – Be aware that I can be influenced by things such as advertisements,
    being at a party, or being at a restaurants.  Take the time to notice
    if I am truly hungry or just being triggered to crave food because of
    my circumstances.

  • Don’t feed the feelings
    – Don’t just eat because of how I feel. Eating a candy bar will not
    make my stress go away. Moods are impermanent and will pass. Just be

  • Just eat – Focus on eating when I am eating. Clear my mind and be present with my food.
Comments read comments(38)
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Patrick Groneman

posted August 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

“Love my food” Yes! I’ve wasted a lot of time “snacking” to avoid painful or boring present moments. Learning to eat my food more lovingly has helped me bring better attention to what I was avoiding and more enriching culinary experiences!
Great advice here Kirsten!

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posted August 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Nice post. I use these strategies of mindful consumption with clients who wish to cut back or cease smoking.

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Hal W. Lanse

posted August 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

This article was posted some months back on my website’s blog: (Originally posted on I thought it would be of interest here.
–H. Lanse
A recent study out of Duke Hospital offers evidence that reading books can help obese girls lose weight. Yes, I said reading books! How is this possible? Working with pediatric specialists, the publisher of Lake Rescue produced a book that provided girls, ages 9-13, with a character who overcomes her self-esteem issues and learns how to follow a healthy lifestyle. Even though the character is fictional, she managed to exert positive peer pressure, encouraging the girls in the Duke study to take control of their lives and to lose weight.
The implications of the study are powerful. If this approach works for obese, preadolescent girls, it could work for preteens dealing with other issues. Think of it. The gay teen dealing with internalized homophobia, the young woman or man trying to recover from abuse, the kid with alcoholic parents, the boy who is trying to resist pressure to join a gang, even the math-phobic child who doesn’t think she can succeed in school; all of them might find their lives improved through a combination of support services and good reading.
I hope publishers, authors, mental health experts and educators begin working together to develop books that teach young people how to manage life’s complicated issues. Right now, this is most likely to happen in fantasy novels, like the Harry Potter series. Such novels often center on the adventures of “nerdy” kids who discover their own inner resources. What a blessing it would be to flood the market with realistic YA fiction featuring young characters who learn how to negotiate life’s vicissitudes.
Authors and publishers: Take note!
back I posted this article on I thought it would be of interest here.

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Lose 50 pounds

posted August 13, 2009 at 5:31 am

the cake looks so yummy

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posted August 13, 2009 at 9:40 am

These are great reminders, and after years of trying to figure out how I went from a stick-thin teenager to a plump twenty year-old in one year flat (hard to not believe it was because I was just not meant to be fit) and work towards a healthy eating style, I came to most of these through trial and error.
One part I’d add is Mindful Activity: train your awareness to notice how much time you spend sitting vs. how much time you spend sweating a day. If you’re sitting all day, day after day, the odds are just praticing mindful eating won’t be enough to learn how to regulate yourself. Finding some physical activity that gives you pleasure is crucial. Biking, walking and yoga are my magical triumvirate.

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Ilona Fordham RD

posted August 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Great article! Minfulness is a very important concept. In our busy lives being mindful takes time and effort and like anything practice makes perfect. A regular yoga practice is a great way to tone teh body and train the mind to beome more mindful – I recommend this to my clients!

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Marilyn Bobbin, MS, RD

posted August 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Yes! One of the first things I do with clients is to have them distinguish what their main purpose in eating is. Without having a purpose, or having one that is not fully in your consciousness, eating can be random and counterproductive to what you may be striving for, such as good health.
Thank you for such a nice summary of an important aspect of eating!

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posted August 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Eating mindfully is so important. I just wrote about this on my blog.

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Michelle May MD

posted August 14, 2009 at 2:56 pm

It is great to see research on this topic. I’ve been teaching it for ten years but it is difficult to get mainstream medicine to buy-in until they see the powerful affects of mindfulness written up in a credible journal. Kudos!

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kate bieler

posted August 16, 2009 at 9:29 am

In the past 2 to 3 months, I have lost approximately 12 to 15 lbs. My motivation for losing the weight was my being diagnosed with diabetes. I believe the way that I did it was 2 fold. I stayed away from excess sugar, and ate smaller portions more often in the day. For instance, instead of eating 3 meals a day in a 24 hr. period, I would eat smaller portions maybe 8 to 10 times per day, and just eat till I was satisfied. Before I knew it, I had shed 12 to 15 lbs. and felt more energized and better about how I looked…, this was for me a more ‘mindful’ way of eating and it worked very well for me.

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Miguel Marcos

posted August 18, 2009 at 7:51 am

In addition to eating mindfully it helps greatly to *cook* mindfully. Preparing your own meals is an extension of the act of eating and opens up your mind about what it is you will be eating. Eating at a restaurant, getting take away, or buying prepared foods cuts the process short.

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Lose Weight

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:23 am

Lose weight can be such as a struggle because after so many efforts when a man have nothing in his hands.If you relly wants to lose weight you should have to make canges every day in your living and diet.

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Lose Weight

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:25 am

Lose weight can be such as a struggle because after so many efforts when a man have nothing in his hands.If you relly wants to lose weight you should have to make canges every day in your living and diet.

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Reduce Your Waist Size

posted September 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Losing weight is acievable to everyone but you have to look at it as a lifestyle change. What you eat and what you do (in terms of exercise). So in effect much of the inertia of losing weight is firstly in your mind set- do you want to lose weight? Well convince yourself fully that you do and commit to altering your lifestyle.

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posted October 3, 2009 at 11:11 am

NO-ONE WILL LOSE WEIGHT UNLESS THEY WANT TO! Stop dieting; keep track of everything that you eat each day. Secret information will help you to get the body that you want. Each day keep your body properly hydrated with plain water and definitely limit your sodium intake. Keep mindless grazing to a minimum. Remember; eat to live, don’t live to eat! A daily regimen is needed by everyone and that regimen includes proper nourishment. Diets and diet aids do not help anyone! The only way to successfully lose weight and get the body that you deserve is by using secret information. This information is in the book Lose Weight Using Four Easy Steps which can be ordered through the website Everyone who has gotten a copy of these secrets has lost weight and become healthier.

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posted October 22, 2009 at 3:59 am

great post and it really hits the spot for me. The reason I lost weight is because I started to pay attention to what I was eating and why. My weight gain was when I lost touch with this natural focus. Insightful and on the mark, thankyou. Will return Davi

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posted December 8, 2009 at 8:27 am

Someone once famously said, “If you want to look young and thin, hang around with fat people”. While you may take this advice with a pinch of salt and laugh it off, for someone who is obese, losing weight is no laughing matter. Hanging around with fat people and deceiving yourself may seem easy, but taking responsibility and losing weight seems to be a herculean task to many.

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posted December 9, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Very useful article.. Many of our friends lost hundred or maybe thousands of money..but didn’t get the weight as they want and they are getting bigger and bigger.. the only thing that getting thin is only their check book.. But i finally found what make us fat.. and i wanna share it here..

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hypnosis for losing weight

posted March 8, 2010 at 6:42 am

I am hungry after exercising, but I go to sleep early after my workouts. I’m not tempted to eat by doing this.

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weight loss tips

posted May 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm

People who are pond of eating will surely turn to pills and other methods to lose weight. but i really think that i will be looking unto foods for losing weight.

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weight loss tips

posted May 17, 2010 at 10:32 pm

People who are pond of eating will surely turn to pills and other methods to lose weight. but i really think that i will be looking unto foods for losing weight.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 4:46 am

If food has taken over your life, it’s time to take it back. A great way to control your hunger and eating habits is the Japan Lingzhi toxin discharged tea that will boost your energy and metabolism. They use a healthy, organic blend of herbs including ginseng and guarana extract that will get you through the day without obsessing about food and your next meal. Give yourself a rest and try it risk free for 7 days. i believe i can help you! Please contact me as soon as possible! Please don’t be hesitating! (no shipping fees)

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Online Weight Loss

posted July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

I think eating mindfully is a great first step to losing weight. There’s more on mindful eating here:

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posted July 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm

It’s not easy to avoid those tasty foods sometimes, but it’s best to think of the health advantages of eating the foods that will enable you to live a long and fulfilling life!

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posted July 28, 2010 at 5:18 am

In my opinion, losing weight is related to exercising just as much as to eating. If you have bad eating habits with zero exercising the result is obesity.

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Weight Loss Supplements

posted July 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

You don’t have to give up all sweets and treats, though cutting out sugar helps quite a bit. Eating in moderation or 5 or 6 smaller meals a day will help. Don’t forget it’s not just about what you eat you also need to exercise.

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posted August 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Being aware how much one eats is already one of the key points to lose weight. You will recognize it much earlier that you are satisfied but not overeat.

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Ivy is finding ways to loose weight fast

posted August 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

Reducing and moderating food intake will help in loosing weight. But if you want to loose weight fast you need to do it along with exercise so that deposited fats in the body will be burned out and flushed out from the body through sweat.

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neck traction guy

posted August 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Great information and I appreciate it. This will definitely help my healthy eating!

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neck traction guy

posted August 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

oh by the way, it is important to know the actual, true ingredient. Consumers must be able to get the real information, not what companies claim on their products..

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Tom Lauer

posted September 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

It all starts at home. We, as parents are still role models for our kids. That will never change. The question is what kind of role model? All it takes is to slow down, straighten up our priorities a bit, and get back to basics. I don’t care how many fast foods joints are in town or how many best buys or cell stores. It all starts at home.
And if everyone followed the above guidelines, what a difference it would make !!

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Tom Lauer

posted September 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

It all starts at home. We, as parents are still role models for our kids. That will never change. The question is what kind of role model? All it takes is to slow down, straighten up our priorities a bit, and get back to basics. I don’t care how many fast foods joints are in town or how many best buys or cell stores. It all starts at home.
And if everyone followed the above guidelines, what a difference it would make !!

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Mari Ann from Permanent Weightloss

posted October 26, 2010 at 8:53 pm

For me in order to lose weight you need to motivate yourself. Eat only healthy foods when you are hungry and of course 30 minutes of exercise a day is great!

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Mechelle Hartman

posted November 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I like your blog. You have a lot of interesting and useful information that I can learn from an apply to my own situation. Keep up the good work.

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Diane Zinger

posted November 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Eating Mind is very important but exercise should also be used! Such as Bowflex or my favorite Crazy Fit Machine. Eating healthy is not enough. EXERCISE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME !

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posted December 3, 2010 at 5:14 am

That’s understandable that cash makes people autonomous. But how to act when one has no money? The one way only is to get the personal loans or bank loan.

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