Remembering Past Meals May Promote Weight Loss

Brain Food
If you’ve spent time dieting, you’ve probably encountered the advice that you should pay attention to what you eat, how and when.  Now, new research is putting a different spin on this old advice.

Changes In Focus Matter
Appearing in last month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Eating Attentively
is a review and meta-analysis of several studies conducted on the effects of mindfulness on eating behaviour.Dr. Eric Robinson and his research team found a number of different effects with respect to attentiveness and eating:

  • eating when distracted seems to promote greater consumption of food, both immediately and later on, well after the distraction has subsided.
  • remembering past meals seems to reduce subsequent consumption but its immediate impact is not clear.

Their conclusion?

“Evidence indicates that attentive eating is likely to influence food intake, and incorporation of attentive-eating principles into interventions provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.”

What Is Attentive Eating?
Attentive eating is the process of bringing greater consciousness to how you eat.  The studies that were reviewed made use of a number of techniques to promote food memories.  Examples include writing about past meals and visual evidence such as pictures and empty food packaging.

Maintaining a food journal is a way of encouraging attentive eating.  Recording your intake allows you to recall and visualize what you ate; it also gives you an ongoing reminder if you revisit past journal entries.

Religious practices such as saying a prayer at meal times are also a way of bringing greater mindfulness to our eating behaviour.  Playing the role of an observer, deliberately noting the various aspects of the experience of eating, like smells, tastes and textures, can add mindfulness to a meal too.

Applying The Research
There are two things to pay attention to in connection with this research:

  1. Avoid distractions when you eat.
  2. Create richer food memories by being more mindful when you eat.

These small changes could help you achieve a healthier weight without diminishing your enjoyment of your food.