Have you ever eaten food while driving, or watched TV while eating dinner? Research shows that this distracted eating may lead us to eat too much, gain weight, and experience higher levels of anxiety (Stanszus, Frank, & Geiger, 2019).
Mindful eating is an approach to food that amplifies an individual’s sensual awareness of food and the experience of eating it (Nelson, 2017). Rather than focusing on the outcomes of eating, you focus on the process of eating itself; this allows you to savor the meal and enjoy it fully.
“Mindful eating encourages one to make choices that will be satisfying and nourishing to the body. However, it discourages ‘judging’ one’s eating behaviors as there are different types of eating experiences. As we become more aware of our eating habits, we may take steps towards behavior changes that will benefit ourselves and our environment.”Source: Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health
Research on Mindful Eating
Research by Stanszus et al. (2019) suggests that mindfulness-based interventions for eating allow people to:
Recognize when they are full;
Decrease mindless, automatic eating;
Experience new tastes; and
Reflect on where their food comes from.
Similarly, Katterman et al. (2014) found that mindful eating may decrease binge eating and emotional eating behaviors.
Mason et al. (2016) note that mindful eating can lead people to eat less sweets. This helps to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
Practice Mindful Eating
1) Ready to practice mindful eating? Follow the steps below.
2) Prepare a small serving of your favorite food.
3) Switch off your phone and silence any alerts to avoid distractions.
4) Sit in a comfortable position and take a deep breath to relax.
5) Look at the food in front of you. Examine the shape, texture, and appearance. Is there something you see that you haven’t noticed before?
6) Next, close your eyes and bring the food to your nose. Inhale deeply and reflect on the scent. What do you smell?
7) Take a small bite of the food, and hold it on your tongue. Before you chew, take a moment to notice how it feels in your mouth. What textures can you feel?
8) Bite down on the food. Chew for a moment. How does the taste change? The texture? Listen to the sounds your food makes as you chew.
9) Swallow the food. Pay attention to how it feels as it travels to your stomach.
10) Now that you have swallowed, take a moment to check in with your body. How do you feel? What did you think?
11) Repeat this process with two more bites.
Mindful Eating Resources
Katterman, S.N., Kleinman, B.M., Hood, M.H., Nackers, L.M., & Corsica, J.A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 197-204. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005
Mason, A.E., Epel, E.S., Kristeller, J., Moran, P.J., Dallman, M., Lustig, R.H., Acree, M., Bacchetti, P., Laraia, B.A., Hecht, F.M., & Daubenmier, J. Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindful eating, sweets consumption, and fasting glucose levels in obese adults: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 39(2), 201-213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-015-9692-8
Nelson, J.B. (2017). Mindful eating: The art of presence while you eat. Diabetes Spectrum, 30(3), 171-174. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0015
Stanszus, L.S., Frank, P., & Geiger, S.M. (2019). Healthy eating and sustainable nutrition through mindfulness? Mixed method results of a controlled intervention study. Appetite, 141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104325