Mental health benefits of mindful eating as couple see 14st weight loss

Tracie and Ste Lord decided to overhaul their lifestyle and eat more mindfully. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)
Tracie and Ste Lord decided to overhaul their lifestyle and eat more mindfully. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)

A woman has revealed how mindful eating helped her and her husband start and incredible weight loss journey, which saw them shed 14st between them.

Tracie Lord and her husband, Ste, both 43, from Wigan say they had fallen into a cycle of unhealthy eating habits, eating takeaways and fast food deliveries up to three times a weekend.

At her heaviest, Tracie, who also admits to regularly indulging in unhealthy snacks of an evening including cakes and biscuits, weighed 22st and wore a dress size 22.

It was after a trip to Florida in 2017, where she was left feeling embarrassed at not fitting into a rollercoaster seat at SeaWorld, that she knew something had to change.

Tracie discovered she was consuming nearly 3,000 calories a day and decided to switch her mindset to enjoy food more mindfully, swapping junk food for healthier "fakeaways".

"I've always had a big appetite and I didn't want to sacrifice the amount of food I was eating," Tracie explains.

"So, I instead turned to healthy eating and shortly realised that I could still have large portions if I just made smarter choices."

The couple say eating more mindfully contributed to their weight loss. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)
The couple say eating more mindfully contributed to their weight loss. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)

In just 18 months, she lost an impressive 9st and dropped six dress sizes. Meanwhile her husband, Ste, has lost 5st, going from 19st to 14st, since focussing more on his own weight loss journey 18 months ago.

The couple now enjoying going to the gym and cooking fresh meals together and say their new mindful eating regime has made them much happier.

"I feel like losing weight has almost become easier since Ste stepped up his game," Tracie explains.

"We're each other's biggest supporters, and whilst we have the days where we snack a little too much, we are there to encourage each other to get back on track.

"We both bounce off of each other and encourage each other to be more mindful of the food we eat.

"I've introduced him to 'fakeaways' instead of takeaways and we both enjoy cooking our favourite Chinese dishes in a healthier way.

"Although we still enjoy social events, and the occasional takeaway, we are just a little bit more mindful of what we eat.

"It's been so much better continuing my weight loss journey with Ste on side, as we're so supportive of each other and encourage one another to stay on track.

Tracie lost 9st and dropped six dress sizes. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)
Tracie lost 9st and dropped six dress sizes. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)

While Tracie's weight loss progress was halted when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022, following surgery and 15 sessions of radiotherapy she has since been given the all clear.

Despite having to take medication for the next five years, she is back to feeling healthy and is determined to maintain her healthy eating regime.

"It was a difficult time for us both, but now I'm cancer free, I'm even more determined to push myself and Ste back into our healthy eating habits," Tracie explains.

"We're both so much happier now we've lost weight, and we are both eager to continue a healthier lifestyle."

Diet before

Breakfast: White coffee with two sugars, and a cheese toastie as a late morning snack

Lunch: Meal-deal, and two white coffees in the afternoon

Dinner: Birdseye chicken fillets, oven chips, a little bit of veg

Snacks:Bbiscuits, chocolate and crisp

Diet after

Breakfast: Low sugar bread with egg, black coffee

Lunch: Soup with tomatoes and sugar snap peas

Dinner: chicken, wedges with sprouts and onions, and two coffees on the evening

Snacks: Yoghurt, fruit and a packet of crisp

Tracie says the couple are 'much happier' since their weight loss. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)
Tracie says the couple are 'much happier' since their weight loss. (Tracie Lord/SWNS)

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is about giving food our full attention as we eat, rekindling a relationship with the act of eating.

According to Dr Romi Ran, clinical psychologist and author of author of Bite Sized Peace (January 2024) mindful eating transforms the act of consuming food from a routine, often mechanical, task into an experience of awareness and appreciation.

"The first step in this journey is to create an environment that encourages mindfulness," she advises. "This might involve setting a serene table, reducing distractions like screens or stimulating conversations, and taking a moment to feel gratitude for the food before you."

Mindful eating is not so much about what or when you eat, but about how you eat.

"It's about truly experiencing your meal—observing the colours, textures, and aromas before you even take a bite, engaging your senses fully, and then, with great attention to the experience, beginning to eat slowly," Dr Ran continues.

The benefits of mindful eating for our physical and mental health are extensive.

"This practice deepens your connection with food, allowing you to fully savour each bite and genuinely taste what you are eating," she explains. "It enables you to tune into your body's hunger and fullness signals, potentially leading to healthier portion sizes that align with your body's needs and results in a more satisfying eating experience.

"On a deeper level, this practice fosters self-compassion and kindness," Dr Ran adds. "By consciously choosing to nourish yourself at each meal, you reinforce the message of your own worthiness."

Watch: Mindful eating practices to ease indigestion and bloating

Mindful eating is beneficial for anyone, regardless of age or circumstances, but it can be particularly transformative for individuals with physical health conditions such as diabetes or digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

"Slowing down and paying attention to how food affects your body can help you identify patterns or triggers that exacerbate symptoms," Dr Ran says. "Instead of relying on external eating rules based on your condition, tapping into your body's wisdom can guide you toward more suitable dietary choices. Moreover, by reducing the rush and distraction during meals, you also decrease the physiological stress that often worsens digestive issues."

Those who struggle with disordered eating, including binge eating, emotional overeating, or yo-yo dieting, may also find mindful eating valuable.

"Each snack or meal, regardless of its size or routine nature, offers a chance to check in with your body," Dr Ran says. "Ask yourself, 'How does this food make me feel? Am I eating out of necessity, hunger, or habit?' This ongoing dialogue transforms even the most routine meal into an act of mindfulness and self-care."

Dr Ran says starting on this path can be as simple as choosing one meal or snack per day to eat without distractions, taking time to really connect with the eating experience.

"The key is to start small, avoid overcommitting, and celebrate the moments when you manage to eat mindfully," she continues.

"This is crucial, as feeling positive about your actions increases the likelihood of repeating them."

For anyone keen to give mindful eating a try, Dr Ran offers some advice.

"Remember if you do lapse into unmindful eating, don't be harsh on yourself," she says. "Even if it occurs mid-meal, the moment you remember to check in with how your body feels, you are practicing mindful eating once again."

Additional reporting SWNS.