What Does It Really Mean To Practice Mindful Eating?

Many of us can accurately claim we have a complicated relationship with food. Whether we turn to food to comfort us from a stressful day or turn away from food when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can be complicated. As we work through our wellness journeys and try to fuel our bodies the best way we can, food is something that can help us reach our health goals. So much of how we feel mentally and physically begins in our gut and making sure we have what we need to thrive is essential (via CDC).


Because so many of us are lucky enough to have food no matter where we turn, it can be difficult to control ourselves when it comes to sugar, salt, and processed food. Because junk food is so readily available, people have started to change their behavior around mealtime. It's turned into something as fast-paced as our schedules. This is the reason so many people are turning to mindful eating. We practice mindfulness with meditation and journaling, and now it's time to turn that same healthy attention to our meals. Instead of focusing completely on what we eat, we should also consider placing our attention on how we eat.

What is mindful eating

Mindful eating is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of eating mindlessly without paying attention in the moment, you do the exact opposite. According to Healthline, mindful eating is eating when you feel hungry, engaging with the food that is nourishing you, and eating distraction-free. Most of the time, it requires people to eat slower than they would normally, so they can be as mentally present at each meal as they are physically.


Mindful eating is extremely beneficial because it asks us to gain an awareness about the food we're eating without the judgment some people place on themselves when it comes to food choices. Its goal is to bring pleasure to mealtime and to encourage us to be thankful in the moment for the food we get to enjoy (via Harvard T.H. Chan). In a 2017 study, mindful eating is described as an "approach to food that focuses on individuals' sensual awareness for the food and their experience of the food." Because this type of eating requires us to eat slower, it has been credited with increased weight loss and curbed binging behaviors, says Harvard Health.

How to implement mindful eating

In order to add mindful eating into your mealtime routines, start small with mindful habits and build on to them as you get the hang of it. First, identify how you feel around food. If you are anxious to get meal time over with or you eat alone, standing up, and in a rush, you may want to practice scheduling times to eat with others, plan out smaller meals, and eat distraction-free. After you've identified your feelings, work to be in the present moment at mealtime, thinking about the food you are consuming and appreciating it for the nourishment it provides (via Positive Psychology).


Working mindful eating into your life will allow you to refocus your attention on the present and slow down, resting in the pleasure of consuming a healthy meal. This type of mindfulness can really work to make eating a pleasant, enjoyable experience instead of something you do without thinking.