What Is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is something that has been lost in the hurry of everyday life — you're rushing to get breakfast made and eaten, inhale lunch while driving, and are ravenous when dinner time comes, so you're ready to absolutely devour anything you can get. You might be eating while you're working, driving, watching television, reading, or while on the phone. Mindful eating, on the other hand, can help you appreciate and enjoy your food, from creating your grocery shopping list to sitting down for a meal. 

Mindful eating is about being present and eliminating any distractions. You'll focus on preparing and eating the food when you are ready for a meal or snack. Instead of ordering take out because you're too busy or too hungry, you can relax and enjoy a home-cooked meal more often. 

Avoid impulse buying by starting your mindful eating process with your grocery shopping list. Fill up your cart with mostly foods from the produce section — fruits and vegetables. Stay away from the middle isles, mostly filled with processed and junk foods that do not provide you with the nutrients you need. Don't buy anything near the checkout where junk foods are on display to try to get you to buy a little more before you leave. Most importantly, stick to your list (via Harvard Health PublishingMindful, and Healthline). 

Steps to mindful eating

Eat meals and snacks at set times rather than eating randomly, which can help you eat only when you are hungry. Avoid eating for any other reason, such as when you are bored, which can help you avoid emotional eating. Sit down at a table to eat and use utensils. Eating like this at set times each day will help form good habits around food. It's also best to stop eating two hours before bedtime, so your body can focus on sleep, not digestion. 

Eliminate any distractions, such as electronics. Put your phone away, in another room, and shut off the TV. Mealtime is sacred, and multitasking is not allowed when practicing mindful eating. 

Start with a small portion and use small plates that are 9 inches or smaller. You might be surprised when you get full earlier because you're paying attention to your body. Take a moment to appreciate your food before you pick up your fork. Think about everything that had to happen to get the food on your plate and express that gratitude silently or aloud.  

Cooking and eating mindfully

Be mindful when preparing your food, whether you're doing so alone or with others. Use all of your senses to appreciate it. What does it smell like? Feel like? Look like? What sounds does it make? And finally, what does it taste like? Think about the flavors and textures as you're chewing. Take small bites and put your utensils down in between bites so you can savor your food. Take your time to eat, so you know when you are full.

Chew slowly, about 20 to 40 times for each bite, depending on what you're eating. Pick out the ingredients as you're chewing and appreciate the flavors. You might be surprised at all the different foods and spices you can taste when you're mindful. 

According to Mindful, it can take 20 minutes for your body to let your brain know that you are full, which is why overeating is often a problem. It's a slow process. But you can stop overeating if you slow down and practice mindfulness. Focus on how the food makes you feel and stay in tune with your body while you're practicing mindful eating.