Updated: Feb 15, 2022
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you put into your body. It involves observing how the food makes you feel and the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. Mindful eating requires you to simply acknowledge and accept rather than judge the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations you observe. It can extend to the process of buying, preparing, and serving your food as well as consuming it.
For many of us, our busy daily lives often make mealtimes rushed affairs. We find ourselves eating in the car commuting to work, at the desk in front of a computer screen, or parked on the couch watching TV. We eat mindlessly, shoveling food down regardless of whether we’re still hungry or not. In fact, we often eat for reasons other than hunger—to satisfy emotional needs, to relieve stress, or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom. Mindful eating is the opposite of this kind of unhealthy “mindless” eating.
Mindful eating isn’t about being perfect, always eating the right things, or never allowing yourself to eat on-the-go again. And it’s not about establishing strict rules for how many calories you can eat or which foods you have to include or avoid in your diet. Rather, it’s about focusing all your senses and being present as you shop for, cook, serve, and eat your food.
While mindfulness isn’t for everyone, many people find that by eating this way, even for just a few meals a week, you can become more attuned to your body. This can help you to avoid overeating, make it easier to change your dietary habits for the better, and enjoy the improved well-being that comes with a healthier diet.
Benefits of mindful eating
By paying close attention to how you feel as you eat—the texture and tastes of each mouthful, your body’s hunger and fullness signals, how different foods affect your energy and mood—you can learn to savor both your food and the experience of eating. Being mindful of the food you eat can promote better digestion, keep you full with less food, and influence wiser choices about what you eat in the future. It can also help you free yourself from unhealthy habits around food and eating.
Eating mindfully can help you to:
Slow down and take a break from the hustle and bustle of your day, easing stress and anxiety.
Examine and change your relationship with food—helping you to notice when you turn to food for reasons other than hunger, for example.
Derive greater pleasure from the food you eat, as you learn to slow down and more fully appreciate your meals and snacks.
Make healthier choices about what you eat by focusing on how each type of food makes you feel after eating it.
Improve your digestion by eating slower.
Feel fuller sooner and by eating less food.
Make a greater connection to where your food comes from, how it’s produced, and the journey it’s taken to your plate.
Eat in a healthier, more balanced way.