Practicing Mindful Eating

by karen on August 15, 2019

The practice of mindfulness can not only be beneficial for your mental health, but for your physical health as well. Mindful eating is a technique that can help us eat to support our nutrition needs without over-consuming unwanted calories or binge eating. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps us recognize and cope with emotions and physical sensations. Used during mealtimes, mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and enjoy our food fully.

Mealtime mindfulness involves:

  • Eating slowly and without distraction
  • Listening to physical hunger cues and stopping when satisfied
  • Distinguishing between true physical hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
  • Engaging our senses by noticing the texture, flavor, color, smell and even sound of foods
  • Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety over food
  • Eating to maintain overall health and well-being
  • Noticing the effect foods have on your feelings

In today’s fast-paced environment where we’re constantly multitasking, it can be a challenge to eat in a distraction-free environment. But by making mindfulness the base of our eating style, we stand to gain a lot. Mindful eating allows you to follow through with what, and how much, you’ve planned to eat. The practice of mindful eating offers an opportunity to fully enjoy the foods you consume, to consume the foods you like, and to achieve the weight and other health goals you strive for.

5 Steps to Mindful Eating

Make Mindful Food Choices. Review your food options and ask: “Do these food choices and portions support my health goals?”

Take Notice of Your Hunger Level. Are you in the early stages of hunger, very hungry, or ravenous? Aim for moderate hunger before meals as a guide to right-sizing your portions.

Pause and Reflect Before Your Meal. Make a pleasant area of the space to eat in: clear off the clutter, put out a colorful placemat or flowers. Minimize distractions: put down your phone, close your laptop, eat in the kitchen vs in front of the TV. Be grateful for the food you are about to enjoy, and thoughtful of the outcomes you are seeking.

Eat, Mindfully. Notice the food you are eating with all your senses; enjoy the smoothness or crunchiness, the different flavors of salty to sweet, take in the colors and the aroma of the food. Chew slowly and savor your meal. Check for satisfaction every few minutes and stop eating when you are no longer hungry.

Observe Your Feelings. Try to look into your feelings without judgment, simply becoming aware of them. If any of your feelings are causing you to eat too much or choose foods you’re trying to limit, this is good insight. Use this awareness to make changes in behavior, like not buying the foods you’re trying to limit, or pre-portioning foods for portion control.

No matter what eating plan you’re focusing on, be sure to enjoy your foods fully, with all your senses and be present and in the moment at mealtimes, and you’ll be more successful.


Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website

To find a nutrition expert in your area, go to the academy website – Find an Expert

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