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Mindful Eating: Being In The Moment During A Meal

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by China Logarta · Updated Mar 08, 2023

    Mindful Eating: Being In The Moment During A Meal

    Have you ever found yourself absentmindedly snacking while you’re absorbed in an activity? Eating even when you’re not really that hungry? Perhaps finishing a whole bag of chips without even realizing it? Eating or snacking is something that we do as some sort of side activity, especially for those of us living fast-paced lifestyles. We eat while in class, at work, or even while just doing household chores. In this article, we discuss something called mindful eating, what it means, and how we can practice it in our day to day lives.

    What is mindful eating?

    When it comes to mindfulness, the first thing that we think about is mental well-being. Mindfulness is when you are aware and stay in the moment or go through a particular experience without judgment. Certain practices like yoga, meditation, and tai chi foster mindfulness. In particular, these help you train yourself to control your focus, attention and awareness so you can manage other mental processes better. It also cultivates calmness and clarity. Mindfulness has also extended to eating practices, better known as mindful eating. 

    Mindless vs. mindful eating

    Similar to the instances mentioned earlier, mindless eating is when you eat while you are preoccupied with something else or if you’re just not aware of how much food you’re actually eating. Certain factors come into play in mindless eating:

    • Eating when not hungry. This happens when you’re bored and eating gives you something to do.
    • Eating when distracted. This is eating while watching a movie, talking with somebody, scrolling through your phone (maybe even reading this article).
    • Lack of awareness. When you’re not watching serving sizes, it’s easy to lose track to how much you’re eating.
    • Emotional eating. In times of stress or sadness, some people turn to food for comfort.
    • External factors. You might find yourself craving certain foods you see on web advertisements, commercials, or billboards.

    Mindful eating, meanwhile, employs mindfulness as an approach to changing consumption habits. It means really paying attention to our food moment by moment without judging. It’s an approach that focuses on a person’s sensual awareness of the food and their experience of it. Important to keep in mind though is that this practice isn’t aimed at losing weight, but at helping someone become fully present while taking a meal.

    While diets focus on rules, like what to eat and how much to eat, mindful eating encourages a person to appreciate the actual experience of food. It allows a person to make choices about what they eat and how much they eat.

    How mindful eating helps

    A study suggests that it can actually help people suffering from diabetes change their eating behaviors. It is also considered a good way to retrain eating habits. That same study cited reports of significant weight loss which may be related to mindful eating.

    While weight loss diets are successful for just a short period, the study observed that those who succeeded in maintaining their desired weight pay attention to what they eat and stick to it. 

    Other studies also found that mindful eating could help lessen binge eating and emotional eating, as well as help a person create a healthier relationship with food.

    Some tips to practice mindful eating

    • Sit down while you eat. Research suggests that eating at a table aids us in being mindful of what we eat, minus distractions like the computer or television.
    • Use all your senses. Notice the appearance, smell, and feel of the food in your mouth. Take smaller bites, and chew slowly.
    • Take note of physical hunger. With each bite, ask yourself if you’re actually still hungry or if you’re already satisfied.
    • Remove access to unhealthy food and replace it with healthier options. Instead of chocolates and candy dishes, set out a bowl of fruits or a dish of nuts.
    • Assess your lifestyle. Factors such as external stressors and the amount of sleep you get can influence your appetite.

    Key Takeaway

    Mindful eating is a practice that helps a person be more aware of their actual experience of their food. It focuses less on rules that apply in weight loss diets (e.g., how much to eat, what and what not to eat) and more on helping the person fully appreciate the food they are consuming. It also helps you form a healthier relationship with food, as it allows you to make decisions about what and how much to eat.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by China Logarta · Updated Mar 08, 2023

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