Mindful Eating 101

Also called intuitive eating, mindful eating means finding ways to engage all of our senses when selecting what food to eat, cooking and eating with intention, and paying attention to our body’s cues around hunger and food.

Continue reading below for the ins and outs on intuitive eating.

Or for a quick and dirty version, check out the

What is mindful eating?

  • Engaging all of your senses when selecting which foods to eat and paying attention to how they look, feel, smell, and taste.
  • Creating time to choose, prepare, and cook meals with intention.
  • Paying attention to how your body responds physically to different foods.
  • Raising awareness of the cues that guide and inform when you eat and when to stop eating.

Practicing mindfulness when eating:

  • Accept there is no wrong or right way to eat, but there are different levels of awareness relating to the experience of eating food.
  • Acknowledge that everyone’s eating experiences are unique to them.
  • Develop awareness of how your own eating habits can support your overall health and well-being.
  • Understand the deep interconnectedness that exists between all living beings, cultural dynamics, and how food choices impact these connections.

Benefits of mindful eating:

  • Nourishment of the body, heart, mind and soul.
  • Identifying emotional and reactive eating patterns that lead to poor emotional health.
  • Greater awareness of your relationship with food and broader surroundings.
  • Better control and empowerment to make conscious, positive choices.

The How-Tos:

  • Start with a shopping list:
    • Before you begin shopping, write up a comprehensive shopping list.
    • Consider the following when making your list:
      • The health benefits of everything you put on the list
      • Each item’s longevity in your kitchen pantry and nourishment value
    • Don’t shop when you’re hungry (which can lead to impulse buys) and stick to your list.
  • Set yourself up for success:
    • Think about the week ahead and plan accordingly.
    • It can be easy to turn to junk foods, foods we know don’t bring us a lot of value, or no food at all when we’ve got a busy schedule and haven’t planned for our meals.
  • Register hunger and act on it:
    • Be patient and curious. Practice, practice, practice.
    • How often do you really listen to the cues your body is giving you about what it needs?
    • Commonly we think we’re hungry when it may actually be our body trying to tell us we’re thirsty.
    • Spend time getting to better understand the cues your body is giving you, and act on them appropriately.
  • Don’t wait until you’re ravenous to eat.
    • If you skip meals and wait to give your body what it needs, you’ll come to the table ravenous, which can lead to impulse eating and overeating, as you seek to fill the void of hunger rather than eating meaningfully.
    • This comes back to setting yourself up for success – always prepare for busy days and make time to eat.
  • Consider your portion size.
    • Start with a smaller portion size to:
      • Help you become more aware of the food that is actually on your plate
      • Increase your focus on what you’re eating
      • Notice how it’s meeting your hunger needs
  • Create a small ritual to accompany meal times to change how you experience your food
    • Try offering gratitude or
    • Simply arranging your cutlery and napkin in a specific way
  • Eat with all your senses engaged:
    • Turn off the television
    • Put your phone away
    • Save the book for later
    • When you’re sitting down to a meal, give it your full undivided attention.
      • Engage all your senses with each meal:
        • How does it smell?
        • What are the different textures?
        • What colors are there?
        • How does the food feel on your tongue, in your stomach?
        • Savor the first bite and enjoy each moment.
  • Take a break between bites.
    • Put your utensils down and pause as you complete your mouthful.
    • Reflect on the food left on your plate before continuing with your next bite.
    • This physically forces you to slow down and gives you the chance to check in with your body and see how your fullness levels are doing.
  • Chew slowly and pay attention.
    • Make a conscious effort to chew slower than you normally would.
      • You might be surprised by how much you taste and how much quicker you feel full.
  • Take the time to reflect.
    • Mindfulness doesn’t end with the completion of your meal.
    • Take a moment to consider how you’re feeling now that you’ve eaten.
    • Listen to your body and take note of how eating has created different sensations and emotional reactions.

Mindfulness, Values, and Weight Loss

  • Identify your own personal values and whether weight loss supports those values.
    • Is your desire for weight loss personally driven or socially driven?
  • Focus on the importance of your own personal values and attach your weight loss goals to these values.
  • Start to acknowledge your thoughts relating to food as just that – thoughts.
    • These thoughts do not necessarily need to be believed or acted upon.
  • Develop a sense of self that allows non-attachment to negative thoughts and feelings around your weight loss journey.
    • Acknowledge the thoughts, but don’t allow them to dictate how you respond physically.
  • Learn to embrace internal discomfort around your weight loss journey, rather than avoid it.
  • Accept that attempting to control feelings and physical sensations relating to hunger will not always be successful.

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