A Mindful Eating Tip

An easy way to eat more mindfully.

Posted Jan 31, 2019

Have you ever sat at your desk, unconsciously reached for a handful of M&M’s, ate them in one swoop, and then thought, “Why did I eat?”  You didn’t really enjoy or even want them.  But, before you knew it you were eating them.

Source: istock

A new study reconfirms something that we already know intuitively or have experienced first hand.  We tend to eat food that is within our reach, easy to get and near us—often whether we really want it or not.  The “proximity effect” is a powerful thing.

In this study in the journal Appetite, researchers placed raisins and M&M’s at various distances from participants.  They wanted to see how placing a healthy and less healthy food in various positions would impact how much the participants ate of them.

They found that whether the raisins were near or far to the participants didn’t impact how much they ate of them.  (If you like raisins, you will eat them whether they are near or far.)

But the M&M’s were a different story.  When the M&M were far away, the participants ate significantly less of them and vice versa.

The point: This makes a case for taking a mindful look at your environment.  Is there food sitting close by in your proximity that may trigger unconscious mindless eating—eating it just because it is there without your reach?  In contrast: Mindful eating would be consciously deciding to eat the M&M’s—if you really wanted them.  Eating them slowly.  Enjoying them.

For more information on mindful eating, see www.eatingmindfully.com


J.A. Hunter G.J.Hollands M.Pilling T.M.Marteau, Impact of proximity of healthier versus less healthy foods on intake: A lab-based experiment.  Appetite Volume 133, 1 February 2019, Pages 147-155