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Mindful eating stems from the broader idea of mindfulness which is an intentional focus on one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment.  Mindfulness is becoming more aware of rather than reacting to a situation or choice. 

Eating mindfully means you are using both physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy your food.  This can include gratitude for food as well as those who prepared it.  Mindful eating encourages one to make satisfying and nourishing choices and discourages judging one’s eating behaviors as healthy or unhealthy.  It has little to do with counting calories, carbs, fat, or protein.  The purpose of mindful eating is not to lose weight, but it is likely that you may lose weight as you become more intentional about food.  The goal of mindful eating is to promote a more enjoyable meal experience by savoring the moment and the food and encourage being fully present for your eating experience. 

Mindful eating is process-oriented rather than outcome driven.  It is based on experiencing and appreciating the moment and not restricting food intake.  With a mindful approach to eating, our choices are often to eat less, savor more, and select foods that make us feel good!

There are no rules, but mindful eating is guided by 4 aspects: what to eat, why you eat what you eat, how much to eat, and how to eat. 

Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Begin by expressing gratitude for the meal.  
  • Set your timer for 20 minutes and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
  • Notice how the food looks, tastes, and smells. 
  • Try to eat with your non-dominant hand.
  • Eat silently for 5 minutes thinking about what it took to produce your meal.
  • Take small bites and chew well.
  • Acknowledge how your body feels after eating. 

Before reaching for a snack, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”

If the answer is no, consider going for a walk, reading, or taking time with a pet. Mindful eating can help us realize the difference between emotional eating and physical hunger and teaches us that there is a “moment of choice” between urge and eating.

Image Credit: Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

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