5 Tips for Combining Mindfulness with Eating to Supercharge Your Health

How often do any of us really give our full attention to what we’re eating? I’m not talking about simply picking out the type of food you want to eat, tasting it and thinking, “mmm, that’s good,” before swallowing it exactly five and a half bites later.

I’m talking about being totally mindful of what we’re eating. That means putting your undivided attention on all your senses as you eat a meal or a snack.

Obviously, nobody really does because everyone is too busy for it. People are out the door to work with pieces of toast clenched between their teeth or they’re sitting on their couches hunched over giant bowls of pasta while watching Netflix.

And this is a big deal. Not only are we missing out on fully enjoying what food has to offer us, we’re overeating and we’re eating when we’re not even really hungry.

You want to take control over your diet? Then it’s time to put mindfulness and eating together.

Here are some solid tips to help you do just that.

Before you start eating, identify whether your hunger is coming from your brain or your stomach.

There are two types of hunger. There’s real hunger, which is felt in the stomach and is often accompanied by that weird gurgling noise. And then there’s fake hunger. Disguised as real hunger, these are simply intense cravings in your head that are triggered by emotions and stress.

If your hunger is felt in your stomach, then you should eat. However if it’s only coming from your brain, then you’re not really hungry and most likely don’t need to eat. Sometimes they can happen together and it can be difficult to separate them, but mindfulness will help you do it. This is one of the most important steps, if not the most important step, to mastering mindful eating.

Ban distractions when it’s time to eat.

To truly be a mindful eater, which requires full awareness of the eating experience, you can’t be doing anything else. That means no watching TV, no looking at your smartphone, no driving, no working, no reading, no people watching, no walking down the street and no talking to friends/coworkers/family members at the same time as eating.

Sounds weird and boring, right? Well, sure, maybe at first, but when you’re sitting at a table with absolutely nothing to distract you as you eat, you’ll eventually come to realize just how many sensations went unnoticed when you were a multitasking eater (which most of us are these days).

This is hard for any beginner to do for every meal and snack every single day, so if you can aim to practice mindfulness during at least one meal or snack every day, or even every week, and keep it up, then you can eventually increase its frequency.

Focus your awareness on the sensations you experience from your food before it enters your mouth.

Your food has a certain look to it, including colors, shapes and textures. It may feel a certain way in your hand or on your fork, or it may have a very strong and distinct smell to it. It may even give off a steam in a way that warms your face.

There are a ton of details to notice about your food before you even eat it. Simply becoming more aware of them can be powerful enough to keep you from overeating. It may possibly even open your mind enough to help you appreciate foods you never used to like all that much.

Focus your awareness on the sensations you experience from your food while it’s in your mouth.

Aha, the fun part! The whole point of eating! (Well, besides staying alive, of course.)

Now you get to really focus on feeling your teeth bite into whatever it is you’re eating, noticing the initial textures and tastes it triggers on your tongue—ever so slightly altering both its texture and taste with every chew and every area of your tongue that touches it.

Don’t rush this part. Chew more than you usually do and taste it fully. The more you chew, the better your body will be able to absorb the food’s nutrients and the quicker you’ll realize that you’re probably satisfied before overdoing it.

Focus your awareness on the sensations you experience from swallowing your food.

The final step to take toward becoming a serious mindful eater is to look beyond taste. Taste and the physical act of eating are usually the overwhelming sensations that feel so good, even when we’re not being mindful, but don’t let it distract you entirely from that feeling you experience when chewed up food slides down your throat and into your stomach.

After a few bites or so, shift your awareness to your digestion. Your stomach gets heavier and that hungry feeling you once had disappears. You might even be surprised to find how little you’ll end up eating before you’re full compared to how you used to eat.

Most people don’t practice true mindful eating because it’s hard, and eating is instinctive. It’s also not as exciting as watching Netflix or chatting with coworkers at the bistro around the corner. But if you do it, you can almost be guaranteed that most of your major diet problems will melt away on their own.

Mindful eating turns eating into a very rich experience that isn’t just an impulsive reaction to your stomach’s hunger and your brain’s cravings. Try it at least once. You won’t regret it.

Related Articles
7 Foods to Add to Oatmeal That Pack a Nutritious Punch
7 Tips to Avoid Getting Sucked into Distraction
10 of the Healthiest Ingredients to Add to Your Smoothie

Photo Credit: Jonas Weckschmied

81 comments

Mike R
Mike R9 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

SEND
William C
William C10 months ago

Thanks.

SEND
W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Sonia M
Sonia Mabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

and miss out in reading a book?

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

who has time?

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

we know what food tastes like.

SEND