6 Techniques for Mindful Eating

Table of Contents

Eating is something we do every day, and we usually end up eating the same foods again and again.

When we do something very regularly, it’s very easy to stop paying attention, and start going through the motions on autopilot.

This is very evident when we brush our teeth, make our morning coffee or drive to work.

We tend to switch off, getting lost in our thoughts and not paying attention to the task at hand.

The result is that we can’t even remember doing the task, let alone the specific details!

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What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is, as the name suggests, the simple act of eating with awareness. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you’re in a rush!

Mindful eating requires you to use all your senses while you eat; paying close attention to the taste, texture, colours and aromas. 

To understand what mindful eating is, it can be helpful to know what mindless eating is.

Mindless eating may be eating a piece of toast in just a few bites before you head off to work, or munching a sandwich while skimming through emails.

This method of eating is unable to lead to feelings of satisfaction, instead heightening our stress. 

Mindful eating is the opposite. To put it simply, mindful eating is noticing your food’s tastes, textures, colours, and aroma. It’s savouring what you eat, and paying attention to the act of eating – moment by moment.

Mindful Eating - Woman preparing food
Mindful eating creates a greater connection to your food.

Benefits of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating brings about both physical and mental health benefits, while also allowing you to experience greater satisfaction from your food.

You’ll be less likely to overeat, and you’ll even benefit from better digestion. Decreased stress and anxiety are additional benefits of mindful eating

Eating mindfully can bring about a range of both physical and mental health benefits. It can help build a positive attitude towards food, reducing symptoms of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and BED.

Mindful eating can also ease anxiety, reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of your food.

On a physical level, mindful eating can improve your digestion and keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.

Because of this, many people find transitioning towards mindful eating can help them lose weight. They’ll get greater satisfaction from the same amount of food, meaning they desire less overall.

As it takes your body a few minutes to recognise that it’s full, eating slowly and mindfully can stop you from overeating, without leading to feelings of deprivation.

You’ll learn to listen to your body and recognise when it’s full. Eating slowly means your body has more time to register what you’re eating, so you’ll feel fuller, faster.

Finally, mindful eating is enjoyable! By actually paying close attention to what you are eating, you’ll be able to experience different flavours, notice parts of your meal that you hadn’t before, and enjoy your food far more than you would otherwise.

Mindful Eating Techniques

Shop Mindfully and Buy Healthy Food

Mindful eating starts before you’ve even taken a bite! Shopping mindfully will stop you from impulse buying and help you move through the entire shopping, cooking and eating process with awareness.

Healthy, nourishing food is best for your body and lends itself well to mindful eating. Sugary, salty and processed food on the other hand, is very easy to eat mindlessly in front of the television.

Listen to your Body

Mindful eating is about listening to your body. If you’re ravenously hungry by the time you start eating, you’re more likely to eat your food quickly and mindlessly.

It’s best to come to the table with an appetite, but not when you’re very hungry. This will allow you to enjoy and savour your food properly.

Eat Slowly and Engage all your Senses

Eating food isn’t just about the taste. Engage all your senses while you eat, whether you are cooking, serving or eating. Notice the colours, textures, aromas and sounds that the different foods make.

Even chopping mindfully can be very relaxing! Try to pick out specific ingredients when you eat, and chew for longer than you usually would. Many people find placing their knife and fork down between each mouthful can help them to slow down.

Chew Thoroughly

Chewing your food thoroughly will help you to savour the flavours and pick out the different ingredients.

Swallowing your food down whole is not only bad for your digestion, it also means you don’t get as many flavours coming through.

Try to chew each mouthful between 20 and 60 times.

Mindful Eating - Woman eating an apple
Chew your food thoroughly and engage all your senses.

Learn to Stop Eating when you’re Full

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to mindful eating, and one of the most important things is to listen to your body.

We ignore our body’s hunger and fullness signals so often, and this can lead to both under and overeating.

While you are eating your food, think about what your body is telling you. Recognising your hunger signals can take practise.

On a 10 point scale, where number 1 is weak from hunger and number 10 is feeling sick from overeating, you should aim to finish each meal feeling a 5 or a 6.

You should be satisfied, but not overly full.

Identify Why you’re Eating. Are you Hungry, or are you Bored?

Unsurprisingly, we eat for many reasons other than hunger. Many people eat when they’re stressed, having a bad day, bored at work or because they feel they should. All these reasons don’t necessarily stem from actual hunger! 

Figuring out why you are eating is a good way to curb overeating. Do you find yourself eating more during the day if you’ve got an important meeting at work? Or does this mean you eat less? Quiet days at work or long weekends can also encourage us to mindlessly head to the fridge.

Identify why you’re overeating, and try to stop it from happening before you’ve even chosen your snack. 

If you simply can’t live without your 4pm chocolate biscuit, eat it with awareness! Savour the taste, chew slowly and listen to your body. 

Key Facts

  1. It’s very easy to get into the habit of eating mindlessly, which can lead to a number of physical health problems as well as increased stress.

  2. Mindful eating is the act of eating with awareness, paying attention to your food and listening to your body.

  3. Mindful eating has a huge range of physical and mental health benefits, and many people find it also aids weight loss.
  4. There’s a number of different mindful eating techniques, but the most important thing to remember is that you should eat slowly, listen to your body and engage all of your senses.