You know that moment when you’re nibbling away at a meal while watching a movie and suddenly you look at your plate and it’s all gone? Like – blink of an eye, all of that deliciousness somehow traveled from your plate to your tummy and you aren’t even quite sure how it happened?
It’s kind of like your food just vanished, right? (I’ve certainly been there!) Totally unsatisfying.
What about that naughty treat that you dig into on occasion, only to feel incredibly guilty about it minutes after you’re done? Or when you accidentally over-eat and have to suffer through an uncomfortable food baby.
And for anyone who counts calories, the frustrating moments where you try to keep track. Food and math seriously don’t mix well.
It’s amazing how our relationship with food can be so incredibly unfulfilling.
Eating should be a simple, amazing, and spiritual ritual that supports our health… but in truth, it has turned into a complicated, complex and confusing act that often causes a lot of frustration, unhappiness and even discomfort. And while there are many potential factors at play here, one major reason many of us experience these negative feelings is because we often eat mindlessly.
Learning to be present and mindful when we eat can be a total game changer. Let’s talk about what mindful eating is, how it supports your health and discuss some mindful eating tips to make it super easy:
My Journey to Mindful Eating
I certainly didn’t grow up eating mindfully. This little health-esteemie used to scarf down whole tubs of ice cream and fast food burgers like they were going out of style. And I didn’t take a lot of time to savour the flavours. I never gave much thought to how I ate. That is until an autoimmune disease diagnosis knocked me off my feet.
For any newbies in the house (welcome <3), at 24 I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an incurable autoimmune disease, and developed other conditions like Graves Ophthalmopathy and Benign Neutropenia along the way (the joys of an unhappy immune system.)
While learning to live with a chronic illness I realized that I needed to make a commitment to my well-being and treat my body with love and kindness. I empowered myself to do everything I can to thrive in spite of my diagnosis. And that opened the door to a lot of wonderful, powerful and life altering changes.
Honestly, I changed EVERYTHING. And, because of that, everything changed. What surprised me most was I actually had a lot of fun along the way. Today I am so grateful to be able to say that I’m in remission and feeling amazing!
You know what I learned?
(That’s little old me… showing my love (obsession?) for bananas. Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t live without them?)
Healthy eating isn’t all that complicated. I seriously used to think that a healthy diet was all about restrictions and sounded incredibly unsatisfying. Boy was I wrong!
Eating well is about abundance and can be incredibly enjoyable when you approach it the right way. And when you combine all of that goodness with mindfulness you can seriously create something magical and amazingly satisfying. Doesn’t that sound awesome?!
Mindful eating has been one of the many changes I’ve fostered since Graves Disease and I am super thankful for it. It’s a regular form of self care. And I know that it’s something that you can easily benefit from too. Are you excited to give it a try?
What is Mindful Eating Exactly
Let’s break it down, shall we? Before we dive into our mindful eating tips, let’s take a peek at what mindfulness is in the first place:
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. It involves paying attention to what’s happening inside of your body and your mind and/or bringing your awareness to the world around you. But, most importantly, mindfulness is about being present and aware without criticism or judgment.
And sure, that all sounds pretty wonderful as is. But the coolest thing about mindfulness is that it has some serious health benefits.
Take a look at some of the health benefits of mindfulness meditation for example:
- Reduces Anxiety and Stress
- Improves Focus and Concentration
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Increases Empathy and Compassion
(I’ve got tons more details and sources waiting for you right here if you want to learn more)
When you break it down, mindfulness meditation is one of the simplest and truest forms of being present in the moment. And you can take a lot of those fantastic health benefits with you whenever and however you choose to practice mindfulness. Whether you’re doing yoga, walking, deep breathing or even eating, you can work mindfulness into the equation.
Combine Mindfulness and Eating with These 8 Mindful Eating Tips
I like to think about mindful eating as a sort of simple food based meditation. It’s like mindfulness meditation, except your focus is your food. You’re present in the moment, paying attention to the sensations and feelings that arrive while you enjoy your meal.
Here are 8 Fantastic Mindful Eating Tips:
- Tune into your body and focus on your hunger
- Remove distractions, like your phone or TV
- Notice the colours on your plate – it’s so satisfying to see a healthy rainbow of goodness waiting to be enjoyed
- Inhale the pleasant scent and pay attention to how it makes you feel
- Take a bite and focus on the texture, flavours, temperature and/or even the sound and savour it
- Take your time – chew slowly and enjoy every moment
- Focus on how you feel – hungry, satisfied, relaxed…
- Practice gratitude – be thankful that you have this meal, the equipment to cook it, access to the ingredients, etc.
Much like with any form of meditation, practice makes perfect. You may notice your mind wander, and that’s ok. Simply acknowledge your thoughts with kindness and gently pull your focus back to your meal. Start simple and be patient with yourself. One step at a time and you’ll be a mindful eating pro before you know it.
Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Healthy Diet Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)
5 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating
Those mindful eating tips may be sound awesome on their own, but let’s take a peek at what we have to gain! Because it’s all about those gains baby, am I right? Here’s some of the goodness mindful eating has to offer:
1. Stop Overeating in it’s Tracks
Did you know that it can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full? Bonkers, I know! But this can be a real problem if you’re distracted and eating in a hurry.
When you’re trying to get a meal in super quick, shoveling each bite down, you may fill up the tank way too fast. Which means that by the time your brain knows that you’re full you may be a lot fuller than you want to be. (source)
And being too full can mean discomfort, bloating (hello food baby), irregular bowl movements and all the un-fun things that come along with digestive upset. Seriously not fun!
2. Get More Nutrients from your Meal
This may sound a little silly, since I just said that you eat less when you practice mindful eating, but hear me out. According to the brilliant minds at Harvard University, it’s very possible that when you’re eating in a hurry (say working at your desk or while driving) you may actually be in a state similar to fight or flight. (source)
The interesting thing about fight or flight is that it slows down or even stops the digestive process. This is because having energy to run away or fight the bad guy is a lot more important than digestion in a fight or flight situation.
And remember, whether you’re worried about reaching a deadline or afraid of a bear in the woods, the fight or flight reaction is pretty much the same.
So, when we eat in a state of hurry or stress we’re eating with a slowed or halted digestive system. And that means we aren’t going to digest things well. We might not even get all of the nutritional goodness our food has to offer. Which is a bummer! In this case, slow and steady really does win the race.
3. Differentiate Between Emotional Eating and Physical Hunger
According to psychologist Dr. Jean Kristeller, Professor Emeritus at Indiana State University and founding member and President of The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating helps us recognize the difference between emotional and physical hunger and recognize when we’re full. (source)
Which is fantastic! Because stress can definitely have us reaching for unhealthy comfort foods. While studies do show that comfort foods actually do temporarily lower stress, they also show us that doing this on the regular has a negative impact on our health. (source)
While it’s ok to reach for something comforting on occasion, when we use this as a regular coping mechanism we often accumulate more dangerous visceral fat. Visceral fat has been linked to health issues like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic issues and breast cancer. (source)
All the more reason to get your mindful eating on! Studies even show that this awesome form of self care reduces the urge to binge eat and makes meals more enjoyable. Woohoo!
4. Reduces Stress and Improve Your Mood
The good news is, even if we’re giving up on emotional eating (thus easing out of an easy way to reduce stress), practicing these mindful eating tips actually helps to lower your stress levels too!
It works the same way that mindfulness meditation works to nip stress in the bud. Remember how I said that I like to think of mindful eating as a form of meditation? While, that’s actually kind of true (and so cool!)
Mindful eating, much like meditation, helps to reduce the psychological and physiological symptoms of stress, including depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular health (source).
Mindfulness also helps to activate the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, a part of the brain that controls thinking and emotion, and the Ventromedial Prefontal Cortex, which controls worrying. These two babies working together help to reduce anxiety, leaving you feeling more relaxed (source).
Super bonus! When we treat ourselves to a meditative meal we may also lower cortisol levels, a hormone that’s associate with mental and physical stress (source). Which means an even more relaxed you. That’s a whole lot of de-stressing from one simple self care activity!
Related: 6 Fantastic Tips On How to Reduce Stress from Psychiatrists
5. Allow your Body to Find its Way to its Optimal Weight
I want to preface this section by saying that your body is beautiful just the way that it is! I don’t want you to feel like these mindful eating tips involve a focus on weight. That takes the mindfulness part away. Remember, we are looking to be present and appreciative of the moment without judgement or criticism.
And I also want to stress the importance of differentiating between obsessing with your food and appreciating the experience with these mindful eating tips. They are two incredibly different things. It’s s important that our relationship with food (and with our beautiful selves) be healthy, satisfying and fulfilling.
That being said, studies do show that your body will find it’s way to it’s own optimal weight (which is different for everyone) when you make mindful eating a priority. It also helps to promote long term metabolic balance. Which means that we can forget about counting calories and the scale! Instead, mindful eating lets us take care of our beautiful selves and let our gorgeous body do it’s thang. (source 1, 2, 3)
How To Work These Mindful Eating Tips Into Your Routine
I’m sure we can all agree that mindful eating has so much to offer! But, in this day and age, it can be really hard to eat without distraction. While it’s not always possible to practice these mindful eating tips to their full extent (which is totally ok), we can definitely work them into our routines periodically and reap the rewards.
Here are a few ways that you make mindful eating part of your routine:
1. Try not to eat at your work desk.
Not only is it important to take a break and experience a change of scenery, it’s easier to eat mindfully away from your work. Eat in the lunch room or find a nice bench outside and focus on your meal.
2. When enjoying a drink, try taking the first few sips mindfully.
Close your eyes and focus on how the drink makes you feel. Is it hot or cold? What does it taste like? Does it quench your thirst or make you feel good? This is an easy way to work in a quick moment of mindful eating. And it works well even if you are stuck sitting in front of your computer at work or experiencing a busy day.
3. When eating with a group see if everyone is comfortable enjoying 5 minutes of mindful eating.
You can make it fun by sharing some of your mindful eating tips and having a discussion afterwards. Share your thoughts of gratitude and feelings about the flavour. How did this dish make you feel? What part of the meal was everyone’s favourite? Thank the chef. This can make for great dinner conversation.
4. Try not to combine activities like reading or watching TV with eating.
If you’re enjoying a snack hit pause or put your book down for a moment. Take a bite. Savour the flavour and focus on your food before turning back to your activity.
5. Once a week try to enjoy a meal completely mindfully.
If possible find a quiet place, much like you would when you meditate. Focus on your food, the deliciousness and how it makes you feel. This can be inside of your house, outside in your backyard, on a park bench… Basically anywhere that you feel comfortable and won’t be interrupted.
Mindful eating is something that anyone can easily tap into. Even if you’re a busy bee, you can absolutely work some of these mindful eating tips into your routine.
Remember – this doesn’t mean that each meal needs to be a meditative experience. If you can only make time for a mindful meal once a week that’s ok! And if you can only spare a minute to mindfully appreciate the first two bites that’s fine too.
Related: How to Meditate with Ease – Awesome Tips to Get Your Om On
It may take a little effort, but with some practice you’ll be a mindful eating pro in no time! And you know that you have a ton of goodness to gain! Isn’t that awesome?
Have you tried mindful eating before? Are you excited to give it a go? What mindful eating tips would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!
And if you’d like to make more time for self care and (mindfully) enjoy some healthy dessert, you can download my free Self Care Planner and Healthy Dessert Recipe E-Book Fo’ Free right here.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I am so blessed to have access to healthy, delicious food and incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to nourish my body.
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A HUGE thank you to Jennifer of Help Mama Meditate for originally featuring this Mindful Eating Tips post on her awesome website. Check out her goodness right here.
Lexie @ ABudgetingBlonde
I never knew all the benefits of mindful eating! I’ll definitely be trying some of these tips out.
I’m so excited for you to give mindful eating a try Lexie! It’s such a wonderful form of self-care. When I found out that there’s basically a form of meditation that involves enjoying a delicious meal I was totally on board! (Total foodie in the house!) I hope you love it as much as I do <3. Let me know how it goes :)
Savvy Southern Chic
Great points. I scroll social media a lot when I eat and need to stop.
It’s ok if we don’t eat mindfully every single meal. Sometimes it doesn’t work for our schedule. But it’s a nice thing to try and do when you can! I hope that you enjoy adding some mindful eating moments to your routine :). I’d love to hear what you think! Wishing you well.
this is such a helpful and insightful post – definitely going to put a few of these tips into practice!
Oh yay! I’m so happy to hear that Paige. That’s awesome! Mindful eating is seriously a wonderful form of self-care. I mean, savouring a delicious meal is basically heaven anyway. And cashing in on all of those extra health bonuses is a total win, right? I hope you have a blast <3
Great post and a few points I should pay attention to. Like not inhaling my meal as fast as my dog wolf’s his down! Thanks for the reminder.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Debrah! It’s ok if you don’t always eat mindfully (I certainly don’t do it every single meal – sometimes it isn’t practical). But it’s a wonderful thing to do when you have a moment to slow down and really enjoy the moment (and deliciousness).
I hope that this is a fun and fulfilling new form of self care for you! I’d love to hear what you think! Wishing you well on your mindful eating journey 🙂
Cassie | White Sands and Cool Breezes
Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I have never really tried mindful eating but there are times, even just tonight that I stopped and savored the first few bites of my meal. I’m definitely going to give it more of a go though, sounds awesome. Thanks again! 🙂
Aww you are so welcome Cassie! I’m really happy that they resonated with you.
And slowing down like that and savouring the first few bites is totally a form of mindful eating. You’re already rocking it! I hope that you have fun diving in a little deeper and seeing what you think! Sending tons of love your way 🙂
I’ve never thought of this before! It’s a good way to help rid any habits of over eating.
I’m so excited for you to give Mindful Eating a try Alex! It really does have so much goodness to offer. Plus you get to savour your delicious meals. So it’s all win! I hope you have a blast! Let me know what you think if you give it a go <3
I could definitely benefit from these eating tactics. I’m totally guilty of reading when I’m eating and not paying attention whatsoever to what is going into my mouth. You’re absolutely correct, it can be very unsatisfying. Thanks for giving me something to think about!
I’m so excited for you to give mindful eating a try Nicole! I find that even if I only have time to truly enjoy the first bite or two completely mindfully I savour and appreciate the meal in a whole new way. It’s been wonderful (and has certainly helped me to avoid that whole food disappearing act, which really does suck haha!)
I’d love to hear how your mindful eating experience goes if you give it a go. Let me know what you think! I hope you have a blast trying it out and get to savour some delicious meals. Sending you tons of love 🙂
These tips are gold! Mindful eating is something I really need to work on. I’m always eating too quickly, too much or I’m distracted when eating. Thank you for this advice!
You’re so welcome Emily! I’m really happy to you’re excited to give Mindful Eating a go! Even if you only have the chance to truly enjoy the first bite or two completely mindfully you’re still going to gain a ton of goodness (and savour even more deliciousness!)
It’s ok if we don’t have time to do this with every meal or even every day. But making time for it when we can can do us a whole bunch of good! I’d love to hear what you think if you try it out <3. Wishing you well on your mindful eating journey!
Thank you so much Ginette <3. So grateful for your love and support! I have the best mother in law ever :)
“… importance of differentiating between obsessing with your food and appreciating the experience…” This quote resonated with me the most. There are awesome tips in the article that I am certainly taking with me. Thanks so much for sharing this! I also liked the phraseology of “optimal weight” when discussing mindful eating. Thanks again!
I’m so happy that line resonated with you Nkem! I think it’s so important to know the difference, because we can certainly go down a dangerous path if we obsess with our food. Eating should be a simply, enjoyable experience after all :). I’m truly so happy you agree! Sending tons of love your way <3.
This is such a healthy way to look at eating. I love the idea of savoring your food to eat less. Because eating less actually makes us feel better- now mind you I don’t mean depriving yourself but when you eat more of the good stuff and less of the processed stuff it just works out. And I love bananas too. But, I can’t keep them in the house because my kids eat them immediately! Momlife for real! <3 Jamie
Yes! You totally get it Jamie! It’s never about restricting yourself <3. Simply about slowing down, enjoying the moment and feeding yourself with kindness.
Also! So happy you're on the banana train too. No one else in the family can typically get one because I basically inhale them hahaha. I think your little ones must be the same way. I hope a banana or two survive long enough next time that you can enjoy them. I'd share mine if I could ;). Sending so much love your way gorgeous! Thank you, as always, for all of your love and support 🙂
I really need and want to eat healthier
I’m really glad you’re interested in adding some more healthy goodness to your diet. Take it one step at a time. My biggest advice is always to do it from a place of love. Self-love, in my opinion, is the true foundation of a sustainable, healthy lifestyle and makes it so much easier for us to make the right changes for our own personal wants and needs ^^. Because when we love ourselves we take care of ourselves and make decisions that best support our own unique needs.
And, of course, finding ways to simply healthify your favourite recipes and desserts always makes a huge difference. If there’s a dish you find yourself enjoying quite often, starting there and finding ways to make it with more nutritious ingredients can make a big impact. It’s amazing how easy it is to make things that seem so complicated (I make my own chocolate for example, and it seriously only takes a few minutes! Something I never thought I’d be able to do)
Lastly, be patient and gentle with yourself. There is no such thing as the perfect diet and it can take time to find the right balance for you. But it should be an enjoyable journey, not a frustrating and restrictive experience.
If you have any questions or need support please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to share my own experiences and I can also connect you with other bloggers who can give you some pointers too. Wishing you well on your healthy eating journey! Have fun!
I enjoyed reading this. Love the idea of mindful eating!
I’m so happy to hear that Najmah! I hope that you have the important to give mindful eating a try and love it as much as I do. Mediation plus eating is a wonderful mix in my opinion! I’d love to hear what you think once you try it out <3
I grew up eating in front of the TV. It’s a tough habit to break. Plus I eat when I’m bored. Good reminder to be more mindful.
We can never be perfect and not all forms of self care work for everyone. That’s totally ok. All that matters is that you’re taking care of you in a way that works best for you :). If mindful eating isn’t the right fit that’s fine. And hey, even if you just take a moment to mindfully enjoy the first bite or two you’re still going to gain a ton of goodness ;).
If mindful eating does interest you and you try it out I hope you have a ton of fun :).
I never knew all the benefits of mindful eating! I really needed it..
I’m really glad that this found you when you needed it Monidipa! I hope that you have an absolutely blast trying out mindful eating. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you give it a go :). Wishing you well <3
Fascinating article. Such good advice!
I’m really glad you enjoyed it Christine! Thank you so much <3.
I love this! So important to be mindful while eating 🙂
It’s truly a wonderful form of self care Ambar! And I’m personally always down for anything that allows me to really savour and appreciate a good meal. It’s all win! I hope you enjoy a nice mindful eating session soon :).
What an interesting and useful post. I have heard of mindful eating before but never really looked into it. I am an emotional eater and succumb to my cravings all of the time. Whilst I try and eat heathily 80% of the time I understand that’s not enough when it comes to mindful eating. I am going to try your tips one at a time and see how I go. Thanks heaps!
Oh goodness, eating healthy 80% of the time is wonderful! You’re rocking it. There is absolutely no such thing as the perfect diet. We all have to create something that works well for us. I think what’s most important is that we feel well and that our diet is enjoyable and fulfilling. And what that means is pretty well unique to everyone. It sounds like you’re feeding yourself with kindness and prioritizing nutritious goodness most of the time and that is so amazing! 🙂
And we definitely don’t need to eat mindfully every meal. Sometimes it isn’t practical. And sometimes we all have a moment where we eat emotionally or simply mindlessly. That’s ok! If you have the opportunity to enjoy even just a bite or two of a meal completely mindfully or make time for a mindful meal just once a week or once a month that’s awesome. And if you don’t try this out at all, that’s ok too. There are so many amazing forms of self care out there and we can’t possibly make time for all of them (nor are they all the right fit).
I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you do find yourself eating emotionally sometimes. If it’s something that happens often and is causing you stress there is no shame in talking to someone about it either – be it a friend, loved one, nutritionist, doctor or even counselor. We never have to go it alone :). I’ve certainly leaned on all of those people in my life whilst I’ve figured out how to navigate life with an autoimmune disease (and worked on created a diet that allowed me to thrive with it as much as possible).
If you do give mindful eating a go I hope that you absolutely adore it! But I also hope that you feel no pressure or need to eat mindfully or perfectly every meal. You’re already rocking it! <3 Sending you so much love!