Mindfulness can be good for countering snacking binges

Imagine that you are at a nice party. You see a friend walking around with a bowl of bitterballen and you feel a big appetite coming on. And the thought comes to mind: “I’ve worked so hard this week, I’ve earned the right to have a bitterball”.

Yet you end up thanking yourself for the bitterballs. You notice these thoughts without judging them. You accept them, but do not go along with them.

This way of thinking is also called mindfulness. Various studies have shown that mindfulness is a successful method for counteracting snacking and emotional eating, for example. You can read exactly how this works in this article.

Our eating behavior is often controlled by our thinking

Many people who make an attempt to lose weight fall back into old habits. This can be very frustrating. We regularly hear from clients that such a relapse seems to happen suddenly.

But this is not entirely true. Before you give in to something sweet, in a very brief moment, a thought often precedes it. Like “I’ve been working so hard lately, I deserve to eat something sweet”. Or after eating a piece of chocolate you get the thought “oh I’ve already ruined it all anyway. I might as well let myself go now”.

How does mindfulness help for more self-control?

These kinds of thinking habits can very strongly guide your actions and cause you to lose sight of your longer-term goal.

It is therefore important to be aware of your thoughts and not to go along with them or act upon them. Mindfulness is one way that can help with this. Before we go into our tips, first a brief explanation of what mindfulness is.

Mindfulness includes 5 components

  • Observing. Observing means being aware of the internal and external stimuli in your environment. For example, you feel your stomach growling or a cold breeze coming up.
  • Describing. Describing involves describing your thoughts and emotions from the third person. For example: “I have the thought: I have earned to eat something nice”. Or “I notice that my stomach is starting to growl”.
  • Non-judgment. Not judging means that you accept all thoughts and feelings. You don’t evaluate them as good or bad, or as thoughts that shouldn’t be there.
  • Not reacting to stimuli. You let thoughts come and go without acting on them. You are an observer.
  • Acting from awareness. You are aware of your actions and thoughts and choose an action that is in line with what is good for you.

Mindfulness teaches you to look at yourself from a distance and become aware of your automatisms and not to act on impulse. This can, for example, be very helpful in countering emotion eating and binge eating, several studies have shown.

How do you apply mindfulness?

You can start mindfulness at any time or apply it to moments that are difficult for you.

For example, a coaching client noticed that he found it difficult to hold back at parties. He kept an eating diary to find out what exactly triggered it: why did he binge and what did the situation look like?

Then, at the next party, he started to focus his attention on his thinking and what he was feeling. He described to himself what he was thinking from a third person perspective (without judging it).

He had set a goal in advance to drink at most two beers and then switch to sparkling water. He got the thought “oh a third beer could do”, but he wasn’t going to act on it. Instead, he described the thought, “I now have the thought, ‘a third beer will do'”. Then he addressed himself with the thought, “no, I’ll stick to two beers and switch to sparkling water. That corresponds to my longer term goal”. Then the cravings subsided. He repeated this for several weeks in a row and noticed that it became easier and easier to stick to two beers. He broke the old habit, so to speak.

Want to get started with mindfulness yourself but not so sure where to start? Nowadays there are several ‘free’ apps available that can help you get acquainted with this.

Mindfulness is not bliss

While mindfulness can be beneficial in achieving greater self-control, it is important to put it in context. It’s more appropriate for some people than others, and in order to make a successful lifestyle change, more things are important. And that’s not just motivation.


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Start working on your weight loss goals

How would you like it if you

✓ Could be less dissatisfied with your body?
✓ Spend less time on your body and be able to do what you really care about?
✓ Learn to deal with that voice in your head?
✓ Stop letting your body image determine your day and emotions?
✓ Really change your relationship with food?
✓ Learn to appreciate your body, which will make you take better care of it?