8 Tips for Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is the practice of eating both with attention and intention.
In today’s world, we often eat on-the-go, with many distractions, and sometimes for reasons other than hunger. We eat because we are happy. We eat because we are sad. We eat because we are bored. We eat because food is in front of us. We eat because others are eating.
Mindful eating is the practice of tuning in to your body and focusing on not only what you eat, but why, when, and how you eat.
The Mindful Eating Process
Popular diets address what to eat, but often don’t address why, how, or where we eat. Mindful eating is about coming out of autopilot and tuning in to your eating habits in a nonjudgmental manner. The following questions will help you bring awareness around your eating habits. You may find it helpful to write your answers.
Why do I eat? Hunger, stress, sadness, joy, because food is present, because it is time to eat, etc.
What do I eat? Think about how you decide what to eat.
See if you can identify any connections between why you eat and what you eat, and how much.
How do I eat? Fast, slow, distracted working, watching TV, alone, with others, etc.
How much do I eat? Do you eat until you are satisfied or until you feel stuffed?
How do you know when to stop eating? Think about the cues you use—perhaps not until your plate is empty or you’ve put away the leftovers? Consider whether you pay attention to how satisfied you feel.
If you eat when you are not hungry, what causes you to stop eating?
With more awareness of your eating habits, try these tips to become a more mindful eater:
Take the time to do a few deep breaths before deciding when and what to eat. It will help you shift out of “go mode” and into a more relaxed state.
Use your senses to practice mindful eating. Appreciate the aroma, look, texture, taste—even crunch—of your food.
Take mindful bites. Chew your food well. Doing so aids in digestion and delivery of nutrients to your body. Slowing down while you eat also allows helps you realize when you are full.
Put your fork down between bites. This will also help slow the pace of your eating and give you time to appreciate your food and notice feelings of fullness.
Avoid multitasking while you eat. Turn off the TV, computer, and phone. Focus on your food and eat slowly.
Take a hunger inventory. How hungry are you before you take your first bite on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not hungry and 10 being very hungry. How hungry are you after you finish your last bite?
Eat by your hunger and not your plate. Focus on finishing your food when you have reached a comfortable fullness (think satiated, not Thanksgiving stuffed).
Use smaller plates. Doing so helps moderate portions. When you finish, wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds to give your body time to decide if it is full or not.
Don’t forget, mindful eating is not about being perfect, it’s being aware of your choices and being deliberate about making them!