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Mindful Eating

Mindfulness has recently come to the forefront of mental and emotional well-being.

What is mindfulness and how can it impact eating habits? 

Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”, including movement, thoughts, and actions; being “present” in the moment; bringing attention and awareness to what you are doing in the here and now. Mindful eating specifically involves bringing awareness to the act of consuming food.

Benefits of mindfulness are plentiful, including better focus, less stress, and lower rates of depression. Mindful eating habits add to these benefits by helping us pay attention to our body’s hunger and fullness signals. It also helps us determine if we are truly hungry or responding to internal cues (boredom, anger, sadness, etc.) or external cues. Such benefits of mindful eating have been demonstrated to assist with weight management.

Tips to implement mindful eating:

  1. Determine if you are truly hungry, or are thirsty. Our brains can confuse the signals of hunger and thirst. Try drinking 8 oz. or more of water or a warm, calorie-free beverage; wait 10 minutes and then re-evaluate hunger sensations.
  2. Determine if you are truly hungry or are responding to emotions. If you are anxious, stressed, or bored, make a mindful decision to engage in physical activity. This expenditure of energy can refresh emotional balance and subsequently reset hunger signals. Engaging in a hobby or talking with a friend are other strategies to offset emotional eating.
  3. Eat in a designated area. Consciously choosing to limit food consumption to a designated area places a boundary on eating habits and can reduce “mindless” snacking.
  4. Practice gratitude. Taking a few moments to acknowledge thankfulness for the food you are about to eat has been shown to reduce cravings, alleviate stress, and bring attention to the present moment.
  5. Practice undistracted eating. Setting aside electronic devices during meals is strongly encouraged in mindful eating practice.  Giving your brain a break from electronic stimulus is conducive to a relaxing mealtime atmosphere, bringing attention to the activity at hand.
  6. Savor your food. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly not only help digestion, but also allow time to enjoy food! Savoring smell, taste, and texture of food makes the eating experience more enriching.

Mindful eating views food as fuel, eating for nourishment and health, while maintaining flexibility and freedom. Practicing this focused manner of eating enables us to accept all foods, but choose wisely according to our health goals.



Holly Turner - Arbonne, RDN Mindfulness Center at Brown University


About the author

Leslee Blanch

Leslee Blanch is a registered dietitian and group fitness instructor with a passion to promote wellness for individuals and for the community. As a Family and Consumer Sciences associate educator with University of Idaho Extension in Bonneville County, she offers a variety of wellness topics, including nutrition, fitness, and mental/emotional well-being.

Registered Dietitian
Certified Group Fitness Instructor

Family and Consumer Sciences Associate Extension Educator

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