Health Advocate Blog

How to eat more mindfully

Do you eat mindfully? Find out by asking yourself this simple question: What did you eat yesterday?

Some of the most common answers are:

  1. I don’t really remember, but I know I had lunch and dinner.
  2. The quickest thing I could find (cold leftover pizza, cookies, granola bar, coffee, etc).
  3. Cereal because it’s what I eat every day, then bought lunch at the café at work, and stopped for takeout on my way home.
  4. A healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner to give me energy.

What category do you fit into? If you answered 1, 2 or 3, your answer makes a good case for the importance of mindful eating.

Now take a moment to think about how you eat: Do you eat in your car, or while you do other things? Do you eat in front of a TV? If so, you’re likely not eating mindfully.

Mindful eating is eating with the intention of caring for yourself while truly enjoying your food and noticing the positive effects of eating. Mindful eating focuses on choosing food for nourishment and satisfaction rather than mindlessly munching because you’re bored or stressed. When you’re paying attention to what you eat and why you’re eating, you may be more likely to make healthier choices and be less likely to overeat.

Here’s a challenge for you: Try one day of mindful eating! If this seems like too large of an undertaking right now, then just try eating one meal mindfully.

Here are some ways you can eat more mindfully:

  • Sit down at a table to eat. It can be your kitchen table, a table at a restaurant, a picnic table—it’s up to you!
  • Serve your food on a plate. Don’t eat it out of a container or box.
  • Feed yourself with your non-dominant hand. This can make eating more challenging, forcing you to pay closer attention.
  • Eat with chopsticks. This, too, can help you pay closer attention!
  • Turn off the TV and shut off the screens (this includes smartphones) while you eat.
  • Chew each bite at least 10 times. This can help you savor the food.
  • Place your silverware on the table in between each bite. This can help you eat more slowly.
  • Eat your calories—don’t drink them. For example, drinking a glass of apple juice is not the same, nutritionally speaking, as eating an apple.
  • Ask yourself a few questions about the food while you eat. What does the food taste like? Can you identify the ingredients? Do you think you could recreate the recipe?
  • Ask yourself a few questions about yourself while you eat. What am I feeling right now? Notice if you feel satisfied, hungry, angry, bored, guilty, or happy.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t be a victim of the “clean your plate” mantra – when you’ve eaten enough and feel satisfied, stop eating. You can always pack up leftovers to enjoy another time.

Eating is a multi-sensory experience; the more aware you are, the more pleasurable it will be. Mindless habits can be overcome with practice, so start mindfully eating today or tomorrow. It may help you fall in love with food again. Plus, with these habits, you might find yourself not only eating more mindfully, but also eating healthier.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Coaching program, connect with a coach today! Your coach can help you adopt healthier habits, improve your diet, and offer more suggestions on how to eat mindfully.