Becoming a Mindful Eater

February 01, 2023
	At the Supermarket: Handsome Man Uses Smartphone and Looks at Nutritional Value of the Canned Goods. He's Standing with Shopping Cart in Canned Goods Section.

Mindful eating means bringing our attention to what we are eating and being present in that moment. In our busy culture, we often pair eating with other activities such as watching TV, working, or even driving. Think about the last time you had something to eat. Were there any distractions around? Do you remember what your food tasted like? As we eliminate distractions and become more mindful during meal time we become better able to follow our body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, increase the pleasure of eating and improve our relationship with food. Check out the steps below to become a more mindful eater!

  1. Determine your hunger type: Before eating, check in with your body and your brain to determine if you are truly hungry or if you are experiencing non-hunger triggers for eating. True physical signs of hunger include hunger pangs, low energy levels, mood swings, growling stomach, headaches and shakiness. Non-hunger triggers for eating include smells, emotions such as stress and boredom or social factors such as celebrations.
  2. Slow down: Try to make your meal last 20 or more minutes. This gives our bodies time to send and receive fullness cues. To slow down, try eating with a smaller utensil, putting your fork down in between each bite, or simply setting a timer.
  3. Bring all of your senses to the meal: When we eat using all five of our senses, we are much more likely to feel satisfied with what we have eaten. Ask yourself what colors do you see in your meal, what are the textures, how does it smell, and of course how does it taste?
  4. Avoid distractions: Aim to eat all of your meals sitting down. Avoid distractions such as the TV, phone, and computer to allow yourself to be fully present during your meal. Consider taking a deep breath to calm and center yourself before eating.
  5. Check in with your body: Before you sit down to eat check in with your body to see how hungry you are. Then pause frequently while eating to identify early physical signs of satiety such as no longer enjoying the food, feeling pressure in your abdomen, and diminished signs of hunger. After eating, take note of how you feel physically and emotionally. Keeping a food journal can be helpful in reflecting on your food choices and how they make you feel.

By being mindful you can make eating a more intentional and enjoyable experience!

About the Author

MUSC Health Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program
With 20+ years of experience combined, Registered Dietitians Amanda, Haley and Cher facilitate behavior change through nutrition counseling for weight loss and maintenance with children through adults.