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How Can I Eat More Mindfully?

Mayo Clinic Care Network on Sep 1, 2023

Mindful-EatingAt times, you may find yourself in the habit of mindless eating, an unawareness of eating - not being fully present to savor each bite.

This unconscious eating may be a result of distracted eating – eating while you do other things - watching television, working on the computer; or eating when bored or other non-hunger trigger. Mindless eating often does not let you fully appreciate the sensory qualities of your food - smells, textures, tastes; and potentially lead to eating more calories than you intended.

Reflect on the following questions to gauge how mindful you are when eating:

  • What else are you doing while you are eating?
  • Where is your attention as you eat?
    • Are you too busy to notice what you are doing when eating and how much is eaten?
  • How long does it take you to eat a meal?
    • Do you eat on the run? Are you eating so quickly and not enjoying your food and drinks?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
    • Are emotions triggers to eating?

The following suggestions may help you be a more mindful eater:

Do nothing else while eating

  • Eat at a table without distractions – turn off television, put away your phone, computer, or work.

Slow down and savor each bite

  • Try putting down your fork periodically
  • Use your non-dominant hand when eating
  • Set a timer to gauge speed of eating

Use all your senses to appreciate your food 

  • Take time to eat your meal so your senses can fully experience what you are eating. You may notice that you are eating less as you take longer to eat allowing your body to feel satisfied.
  • Recognize hunger and fullness cues

Identify eating triggers that may lead to mindless eating 

  • Keep food diary/journal
  • Challenge your triggers
  • Plan ahead to help emotional eating - Distract yourself from eating for comfort by engaging in some other activity that you enjoy such as a hobby, listen to music, or take a walk.
  • Soothe yourself with healthier food or beverage option such as fruit or a cup of your favorite tea.
  • Use positive self-talk

Create a healthy eating environment

  • Keep your distance – Move tempting foods away from your sight (or out of the house)
  • Use smaller plates, glasses, silverware to help with portion control
  • Limit the times and places of eating
  • Minimize distractions