How to Bring Mindfulness into your Eating
Updated: May 12
Being present when you're eating is great and the evidence suggests that mindful eating can help with weight loss and overeating when we do it regularly (Carrière et al 2017). It involves listening to internal cues we have like hunger and Satiety, and using external cues like reducing distractions and eating slowly to bring some awareness to meal times (Monroe 2015).
Eating mindfully includes:
· Chewing food well
· Drinking water during a meal
· Savouring the aroma and taste of the food
· Switching off the TV or Computer at mealtimes
· Creating a pleasurable experience around food and eating
Mindful eating places awareness on the menu, where and when we eat. It aims to transform our relationship with food by focusing on the why and how of eating. This means that we have a better chance of understanding the foods that nourish us and what helps us stay healthy. This encourages us to have a deeper appreciation of every meal we have. Mindful eating also leaves room for enjoying whatever type of food you truly want but provides us with an awareness and more enjoyment. This can reduce feelings of restriction and deprivation.
Is Mindful Eating a Diet?
Mindful eating is not a diet, but a framework to help guide you toward more mindful food choices. It’s important to note that if we choose food based on a certain outcome such as weight loss, we are eating with a means to an end and not eating mindfully. This can defeat the purpose of mindful eating.
I want to ask you to become more present while cooking or eating, allowing yourself to truly savor every bite without judgement, anxiety, a negative inner dialogue or guilt.
5 STEPS TO BEGIN EATING MINDFULLY
1. Sit down with an appetite: Coming to the table with a healthy appetite is best. When we skip meals our appetite can cause us to feel out of control around food. Create a meal pattern that works for you. A healthy idea is three main meals each day with snacks in between. This will help avoid overbearing feelings of hunger which make it difficult to eat mindfully.
2. Appreciate your food: How often have you sat down for a meal and afterwards barely remember eating or what it tasted like? Take a minute to appreciate where the food came from and the time you have to really enjoy it.
3. Bring your senses to the table: Pay attention to the colour, texture, taste and aroma of your food. We all have our preferences with food. Maybe you like a crunch or softer food? Maybe some spice, or maybe sweet flavours. Bring what you like into it and let yourself be present and enjoy it.
4. Tech free zone: There’s no space for scrolling social media or email work with mindful eating. Sometimes you may have to grab food at your desk and that’s cool, but make some time for a mindful meal. Just you and your food. The emails and socials can wait.
5. There’s no rush: Chew your food well and eat slowly. It’s easier to taste food when we actually chew it. Allow yourself to finish what’s in your mouth before taking another bite. This can be tough if you sit down with a gigantic appetite or it’s your favourite meal on the table but try to slow it down. It’ll only enhance the experience.
Food for thought: Everyone’s relationship with food and their body is different. It can take time to practice mindful eating and it’s OK if it doesn’t work for you. If food causes you considerable worry or stress, reach out to a professional who can help you repair your relationship with food and your body.
Carrière, K., Khoury, B., Günak, M. and Knäuper, B., 2017. Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 19(2), pp.164-177.
Monroe, J., 2015. Mindful Eating. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 9(3), pp.217-220.
Pierson, S., Goto, K., Giampaoli, J., Hart, S. and Wylie, A., 2019. Impacts of a Mindful Eating Intervention on Healthy Food-related Behaviors and Mindful Eating Practices among Elementary School Children. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 17(2), pp.41-50.