Author: Kate Higham
Mindful eating is more than just a trend—it’s a powerful approach that can revitalize our relationship with food. Living in a fast-paced society, we often find ourselves eating in a rush, and in doing so, we overlook the true joy and numerous health rewards that come with thoroughly enjoying our food.
Wondering how you can weave mindful eating into your wellness journey?
We’ll dive into the world of conscious eating, unpacking its many benefits and offering practical steps to incorporate it into your daily routine.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is like taking the "be in the moment" idea of mindfulness and applying it to your meals. It’s all about really tuning in when you eat—savoring every flavor, enjoying each texture and noticing how each bite makes you feel.
It's not a diet or a list of "do's and don’ts." Instead, it's a way to enjoy eating more. It's about really seeing, smelling, and tasting your food, understanding the goodness it's giving you, and paying attention to how hungry or full you feel. It's all about connecting more with your food and your body.
Benefits of mindful eating
In today’s fast-paced world, where grabbing a “quick bite” is the norm, the practice of mindful eating asks us to see food as more than just sustenance - it’s an experience! It’s about taking a moment, slowing down, and really enjoying each bite, soaking up all the flavors, textures, and aromas our food has to offer.
Choosing to eat mindfully and appreciate each bite isn’t just a treat for our taste buds – it’s a real game-changer for our body and mind, including benefits such as:
- Better digestion: Slowing down and chewing food properly can significantly enhance digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth, and by thoroughly chewing our food, we assist our digestive systems and make nutrient absorption more efficient.
- Weight management: Tuning into our body's signals of hunger and satisfaction can help us avoid overeating. In fact, research has shown that mindful eating can have a substantial impact on weight loss (1).
- Meal satisfaction: Relishing every bite and savoring our food can make our meals way more enjoyable. We start to experience flavors in HD and value the nourishment we get.
- Less overeating: By really tasting our food and being in sync with our body’s signals, we can recognize when we’ve had enough, preventing us from over-indulging.
- Better mental well-being: Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with what we eat. It helps to shush those negative voices in our heads related to eating and can even lighten symptoms of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders (2).
Tips to practice mindful eating
Practicing mindful eating isn’t complicated - that’s the beauty of it! It’s simple, free, and can take as long or as little time as you like. Essentially, you aim to immerse yourself as much as possible into the moment-by-moment eating experience. To help you get started, here are some expert tips from the LetsGetChecked team:
Start small: Begin with a modest amount of food on your plate. This allows you to truly appreciate each bite and gives you the choice to add more if you're genuinely hungry.
Engage all five senses: Before you begin eating, take a moment to appreciate the colors and aroma of your food. As you eat, tune into the texture and taste. Listen to the sound of your food as you chew.
Chew thoroughly: Aim for 20-30 chews per mouthful. This not only aids in digestion but also allows you to savor every flavor.
Put down your utensils: Place your fork or spoon down after taking a bite. This encourages you to focus on the food in your mouth before preparing for the next bite.
Eat slowly: Eating a meal shouldn’t be a race. Give your body the time it needs to recognize fullness signals. Research shows that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you're full (3).
Minimize distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and create a calm environment. This encourages you to be present during your meal.
Appreciate your food: Take a moment to express gratitude for your meal – think about where it came from and the effort it took to make it, and be thankful for the nourishment it provides.
Listen to your body: Tune into your hunger and fullness cues. If you’re eating to cope with emotions, try finding non-food-related coping mechanisms like walking or reading a book.
A mindful eating exercise
Here’s a quick, fun, and healthy mindful eating exercise that can be effortlessly added to your daily routine. We’ll call it the "Mindful berry experience."
What You'll Need:
- A handful of your favorite mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
- Begin with observation: Take a moment to observe the berries closely. Notice their colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Are they shiny or dull?
- Engage your sense of smell: Bring the berries closer and take a deep breath in. What can you smell? Can you discern the individual scents of each type of berry?
- Savor the first bite: Pick one berry and place it in your mouth, but don’t bite yet. How does it feel? Is it smooth, rough, firm, or soft? Now, take a bite. Do it slowly, and pay attention to the taste that spreads across your tongue. Is it sweet, tart, tangy, or a combination of flavors?
- Chew mindfully: Chew the berry slowly, paying attention to the texture changing in your mouth. Notice the juice from the berry and how it tastes.
- Reflect and enjoy: After swallowing, pause for a moment. How does the aftertaste feel? Is it pleasant? Continue with the rest of the berries, eating each one slowly and savoring each flavor.
This exercise can turn a simple snack time into a moment of deep connection and enjoyment, allowing you to experience food in a whole new way while promoting healthier eating habits.
Practicing mindful eating opens the door to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about the physical perks—it’s about elevating your mood, clarifying your thoughts, and leveling out your emotions.
The best part? There’s no need to revamp your whole life to embrace it! Kickstarting your journey with tiny moments of mindfulness during meals can massively shift the way you feel. It’s more than just eating—it’s relishing each bite, tuning into your body’s signals, and nourishing yourself in a way that feels balanced and harmonious.
Plus, when you pair mindful eating with consistent exercise and regular health checks, you’re paving the way to a healthier and happier you!
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Online. ncbi.gov
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. Online. Ncbi.gov
- The British Dietetic Association: Mindful Eating. Online. bda.uk.com