How to Start Mindful Eating
You’ve probably heard about mindful eating, but you may wonder what it is and how to get started. Mindful eating is a way of eating that involves being present at the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. It can help you become more aware of your eating habits and make choices that align with your goals and values.
1. Pay attention to your hunger cues.
Before you eat, take a few minutes to ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10. This will help you determine how much food you need to eat to feel satisfied. If you’re not very hungry, you may want to wait a little while before eating or choose a smaller portion.
2. Make time for meals.
Mindful eating takes time and effort, so it’s important to ensure you’re not rushing through meals. Schedule regular meal times into your day and avoid eating on the go. If you can’t sit down for a full meal, try snacking mindfully by taking a few bites slowly and paying attention to the food’s taste, texture, and smell.
3. Eat without distractions.
When you’re sitting down to eat, turn off all electronics and give your full attention to the meal. This means no TV, no phone, no computer—nothing! This can be tough at first, but it’s worth it if it means you can savor your food and appreciate the experience of eating.
4. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings.
As you eat, pay attention to any thoughts or feelings that come up without judgment or criticism. Observe them neutrally and let them go as they come up. If your mind wanders away from the task at hand, gently bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your breath or the sensations in your body.
5. Enjoy your food!
One of the most important parts of mindful eating is savoring your food and enjoying the experience of eating. Take small bites and chew slowly so you can taste everything that’s going on in your mouth. Be aware of the textures, smells, flavors, and temperatures of the food as you’re eating it. And above all else, remember that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to eat—enjoy!
Mindful eating is a great way to become more aware of your eating habits and make choices that align with your goals and values. Pay attention to your hunger cues, make time for meals, eat without distractions, be aware of your thoughts and feelings, and enjoy your food! With practice, mindful eating can help you lead a healthier and happier life.
How do I learn mindful eating?
- Begin with your shopping list.
- Come to the table with an appetite — but not when ravenously hungry.
- Start with a small portion.
- Appreciate your food.
- Bring all your senses to the meal.
- Take small bites.
- Chew thoroughly.
- Eat slowly.
What does mindful eating include? Mindful eating (i.e., paying attention to our food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgment) is an approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness of the food and their experience of the food. It has little to do with calories, carbohydrates, fat, or protein.
Can you lose weight with mindful eating? The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by changing your eating behaviors and reducing stress ( 18 ). A 6-week group seminar on mindful eating among people with obesity resulted in an average weight loss of 9 pounds (4 kg) during the seminar and the 12-week follow-up period ( 10 ).
Is mindful eat free? Mindful Eating Coach 2 is a free app to guide you through all the steps of mindful eating. The first part includes a series of lessons on mindful eating from Emory University’s Healthy Eating and Weight Support lab. The second part is a food diary app to track what you eat and how you feel because of it.