Applying mindfulness to mealtimes is what mindful eating is all about. It’s not another food fad or diet trend, but a highly sustainable way to improve your relationship with food – and the pleasure you gain from it. It also aids digestion and even helps you maintain a healthy weight. But it’s a skill that takes commitment and practice. Follow our guide, below, and give it a try.
The opposite of mindful eating? Mindless eating
Many of us engage in mindless eating every day. In our demanding, multitasking lives, we shove food into our mouths without being aware of what or how much we’re actually consuming. And we do this while being distracted, such as working on our laptop, doing chores or watching a movie, or simply eating out of boredom or anger or happiness.
When we mindlessly eat, we’re not really tasting our food properly or listening to our body, and most likely missing the cue of when it tells us we’re full – which then leads to overeating. This, in turn, presents a whole range of health problems, including disrupting the gut-brain connection.
Health benefits of being more mindful
Deepening your awareness of the foods you consume leads to a positive transformation. By really tuning into your body while you eat, you may discover that you are sensitive to certain foods, and that perhaps some things – that you may have automatically reached for in the past – are best avoided. This will improve digestion and any digestive issues, as will eating more slowly and chewing food properly.
Generally slowing down when you eat also helps your body absorb more vitamins and nutrients. Plus, it gives your gut time to get a message to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat, before you feel overstuffed. Other joys include savoring your food more, making healthier choices, only eating when you feel hungry, and potentially losing excess weight.
Our guide on how to eat mindfully
01 Sit down with nothing to distract you – no phone, no TV, no book
02 Take a moment to tune into how you feel: are you hungry; sad; stressed?
03 Eat using all five senses: notice the color, texture, smell, sound and taste of the food
04 Chew your food slowly and thoroughly, putting your cutlery down between bites
05 When your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to the present
06 After about 20 minutes (the time it takes for your gut to signal your brain about whether it’s full), pause, and observe how you feel: are you still hungry?
07 Stop eating when you feel satisfied, but not stuffed: aim for about 80 per cent full
Further explore the topic of digestive disorders with our audio and video content pieces. They offer holistic solutions and expert advice, and will empower you to take an active and preventative role in your health.