Mindful eating is an intentional eating style that focuses on your sensual awareness of both the food you eat and the eating experience.
Have you heard of the term mindful eating? Is it something you practice in your daily life?
Mindful eating has risen in popularity as more science emerges highlighting the many benefits it can have for your mental and physical well-being. It is a philosophy that I’ve personally incorporated into my practice with my nutrition clients as a nutritionist.
In today’s article, I will be going over everything you need to know about mindful eating. This includes tangible examples of how to incorporate mindful eating into your daily life and also examples of what not to do. Keep reading to learn about the amazing benefits that mindful eating can have for you!
Are you looking for more evidence-based nutrition content? Make sure to check out my blog post on healthy hormone swaps!
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is the magical practice where you learn to trust your body and allow it to dictate what, when, and how to eat. Mindful eating teaches you to listen to your body and respond accordingly to increase satisfaction and joy from a meal.
The core principles of mindful eating include:
- Being aware of the nourishment available through the process of food preparation and consumption
- Choosing enjoyable and nutritious foods
- Acknowledging food preferences non-judgmentally
- Recognizing and honoring physical hunger and satiety cues
- Using wisdom to guide eating decisions
Mindful eating can have many benefits for both your mental and physical health. This includes a better relationship with food, being more present during meals, less stress, and a possible improvement in health markers. Some individuals will experience weight loss, but this should be an outcome of mindful eating and not a core focus or goal.
What are examples of mindful eating?
I want to take a second to go over some tangible ways that you can practice mindful eating. Use these action steps to check in to see how mindfully you are eating and if you are practicing these principles on a daily basis.
Mindful eating examples:
- Acknowledge food as nourishment
- Approach food preferences and selection without judgment
- Recognize physical hunger cues
- Connect with food while eating by disconnecting electronics
- Select and prepare food considering its origin
- Honor fullness cues and stop eating once satisfied
If you are struggling with any of these areas, don’t worry! Mindful eating can take time and practice.
What is not an example of mindful eating?
Now that you know a bit more about mindful eating and what it is, let’s talk about some things that mindful eating isn’t. This will help you get a better understanding of how to implement mindful eating into your life.
Practices that aren’t mindful:
- Using food as a reward, punishment, or tool
- Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and restricting choices
- Waiting until you’re starving before eating or eating when not hungry
- Eating while watching TV, using a phone, or working on the computer
- Selecting and purchasing overly-processed food
- Ignoring fullness cues and eating until stuffed
Doing these consistently can lead to distracted eating and won’t allow you to properly tune into your body and its cues. If this continues, it can negatively impact your relationship with food and your body.
Working with a dietitian nutritionist like myself can help you navigate mindful eating and figure out how to incorporate it into your everyday routine. If you are interested in learning more about my services, book a FREE strategy call through this link!
Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating
Are you familiar with intuitive eating? Maybe you have heard the term and wondered how it is different from mindful eating since these two eating styles are often talked about together.
Mindful eating has similar principles to intuitive eating, such as learning to respond to your hunger and satiety cues and making food choices that make you feel good. The most significant difference is that intuitive eating says that your body will self-regulate as long as you’re not imposing restrictions.
I think something we want to recognize is that our food supply has become so overly processed and sugar-laden in ingredient combinations that trigger cravings and do not keep us satisfied.
Although our food choices hold no moral value and our food choices don’t make us “good” or “bad”, it is important to understand that certain foods can influence our physiology in ways that make it harder to tune into our bodies’ natural hunger and satiety cues.
When we learn how to balance our plates, choose foods that nourish, and eat with intention, we can become more intuitive with our eating.
Are there “good” and “bad” foods?
Labeling food as “good” or “bad” and associating that with your moral worth is something we need to move away from! This mindset can lead to feeling guilty and shameful about what we eat. This guilt and shame can then contribute to poor mental health symptoms and quality of life.
Instead of labeling foods with these terms, focus on adding foods into your diet that make you feel good.
Eating a whole cake might be delicious but it probably doesn’t make you feel good afterward. Instead, focus on portion sizes that feel good for you in your body instead of restricting foods because they are “bad”.
Mindful eating is all about finding foods that nourish and leave you feeling your best!
Other Mindful Habits to Add to Your Routine
The act of mindfulness can extend beyond food and eating. It can also be added into other areas of your life for improved health and less risk of chronic stress.
Other mindful habits include:
- Daily mindfulness meditation
- Mindful walking (bonus points if it is in nature and fresh air)
- Deep breathing techniques
- Additional mindful movements such as strength training or pilates
- Gratitude journaling
With the New Year approaching, choose 1-2 mindful activities that you’d like to add to your day.
Mindful Eating: The Takeaway
Learning how to practice mindful eating can help you reach your health goals without sacrificing your enjoyment of life and food. And nothing lights me up more than witnessing my clients see this in real time!
When my clients incorporate more whole foods and mindful eating, their health improves, their energy improves, their symptoms get better, and they build a healthier relationship with the way they eat. Basically, when we build lifelong habits and shift our mindset around food, all the pieces begin to fall into place.
Does this sound like exactly what you need? If you are saying, “Yes! Yes!” then reach out to me today and let’s connect. There is no better time to prioritize yourself and invest in your health. Head over to my services pages to learn about my 1:1 and group coac