mindful eating

 In this guide, I will show you all the basics of mindful eating, including a mindful eating script and the benefits of mindful eating. 

Mindful eating means paying exclusive attention to appetite cues and our mind/body relationship to food. When we eat mindfully, we are totally focused on doing so: eating slowly, chewing, letting food sit on our tongues so our taste buds can do their jobs, and noting how food feels in our bodies. We aren’t thinking about anything but how food tastes and how our body is responding. It helps to think about each of these aspects of eating separately and move attention from one to the other. — [Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW, Psychology of eating psychotherapist]

There’s a mindful eating meme that shows the cookie monster and the quote. “Today me will live in the moment. Unless the moment is unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie!”

It’s hilarious, but it also makes a crucial point. Because if we are honest about it, the majority of us do not practice mindful eating. We’re more likely to unconsciously down a tub of ice-cream than we are to eat a raisin mindfully. I know that for me myself, when I am stressed or I’m feeling emotional I will often grab something to munch on and stuff it down unconsciously—one reason why I’m still not the weight I want to be.

Unconscious food consumption is a real issue.

Bad eating habits cause serious health problems [1].

Thankfully, one of the benefits of mindful eating is that it cultivates a more positive relationship with food, and this can have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing

In this guide to the basics of mindful eating, I will show you everything you need to know to practice mindful eating and to live healthier. And you will probably want to read my guide to weight loss meditation techniques, too.

Let’s get started.

mindful eating meme

 

The Basics Of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is basically a  mindfulness meditation exercise based on food.

To be mindful means to be consciously aware. It is the state of being awake to our existence in the present moment. [READ: Getting Started With Mindfulness]

Mindful eating simply means to eat in a conscious and awakened way. It is a valuable exercise used by meditation practitioners and is one of the essential Ayurveda practices.

The basics of mindful eating are about being conscious of food.

We do this by focusing on the food and on the way we eat. I personally used to binge while watching TV, or checking my phone, or browsing the internet… I never felt satisfied with food because I ate mindlessly. Now I practice mindful eating, by simply eating slowly and focusing on the food and on the process of eating.  It’s a simple but powerful practice.

In a moment, I will share with you some amazing research on the benefits of mindful eating. But first, let me show you the mindful eating script. This will transform your relationship with food, and change your health for the better.

Mindful Eating Scripts For Adults & Kids

There is no right or wrong way to eat mindfully. Basically, what matters is your intention. You have to bring the right attitude to food.

There’s an old quote by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “When sitting, sit.’ It’s about just doing that one thing, and focusing on it. The same can be applied to food: When eating, eat.

Chocolate exercise script

  1. To do this exercise, you will need a chocolate bar.
  2. Sit comfortably and take ten deep breaths through your nose, and out through the mouth, just to calm and focus your mind.
  3. Pick up your chocolate bar. Unwrap it. Now hold it in your hand.
  4. Before you bite into the chocolate, observe it. Notice it. Notice the shape, the weight, the texture. Simply be aware of the chocolate.
  5. Now go to take a bite of chocolate. But move mindfully. Be conscious of the movement of your mouth as you go to bite into the chocolate bar.
  6. Bite. And focus on the sensations involved with the food. Meditate on the texture of the food, the way it feels in your mouth, the smell (if there is one). Observe the entire process using your five senses.
  7. Now swallow and be mindfully aware of what happens in your body when you swallow.
  8. Continue in this way. Again, it’s not about a precise process. It’s more intent. It’s about being awake and aware to the process of eating. You don’t have to follow the steps and instructions above specifically, either. You just need to be conscious.

Mindful Eating Exercise For Kids  (Script)

If you want to teach your kids mindfulness, one of the best places to start is with mindful eating.

Try this simple children’s exercise.

Set a fun food plate full of bright colours, like various fruits, for instance. Now ask your kids the following questions:

What do you see? Get them to observe the food with their eyes

What do you hear? Does the food make any sound

What do you smell?

What does it feel like?

What does it take like? Let them take a small bite of the food and ask them to observe the tastes. Then after they swallow, get them to describe the flavours to you.

 

Principles

As you can tell from the mindful eating script above, when we practice mindful eating, we are changing our intent about food. In a nutshell, it is about being aware.

Here are some of the most important basics of mindful eating to follow:

  1. Be mindful: Do not binge-eat and do not eat food while watching TV or doing anything else. When you’re eating, just eat. Make that is the only thing you are doing.
  2. Take time to appreciate food: Don’t wolf down your food. Take the time to notice and appreciate your food. This isn’t so much about eating slowly as it is about being mindful.
  3. Eat when you’re hungry, not starving: If you are too hungry when you come to the dinner table, you will be tempted to scoff your food down too quickly. Eat when you get hungry, but before you are starving.
  4. Eat with your mind: Too often, we go through the physical process of scoffing down food while the mind is somewhere else. Make sure your mind is actively engaged in the process.
  5. Cook mindfully: You can get more out of the practice by also mindfully cooking your own food. When cooking, take the time to notice the textures, scents, flavours and other senses involved with the food, and mindfully observe the transformation process from oven to plate.
  6. Remember this mindful eating mantra: “I will be mindfully awake to all the food I eat.”  
  7. Note that you can also use mindfulness to quit drinking

 Mindful eating tips from the experts

Yoga and meditation teacher Huma Gruaz recommends the following:

1-Shift your perspective on what eating is about:

Notice when and if you are using food as a resource for comfort and start shifting your focus to a need-based relationship with food. This will start with knowledge about what we need on a daily basis to have a healthy, vibrant body. Educate yourself on what kind of foods will nourish your body and what kinds of food are simple temporary taste bud satisfiers with no added nutritional value. When we start seeing what we put in our mouth as nourishment for the body’s wellness, versus a feel-good impulse satisfier, we will start our mindfulness journey.

2- Be more aware of signs of real hunger versus craving

How many times do we eat without really being hungry as we are simply craving something? Mindfulness pauses the vicious cycle of eye-mouth relationship where little thinking or pause is involved. – i.e. we see a doughnut, our mouth waters, and we eat it. With mindfulness, we are able to push the pause button, shift into the witness role, observe what is happening in the body and mind, and check-in with our gut, to see a) if we are actually hungry b) if we are, if this is the best option to put in our body c) what are the key nutrients our body will get from this experience d) what will be the post eating affect on our mind and body – feeling bloated, tired and perhaps quilty?. Then, we can make a decision and give our response instead of impulse reaction to this craving.

3: These tips from  Amber DiPietro [Pravasana Holistic Health & Wellness]

• Avoid multi-tasking. This means put away the electronics, turn off the tv, stop the social media scrolling, simply just eat.
• Notice the aroma of the food
• Turn to the texture and sensation in the mouth. Maybe you even feel your saliva glands in action
• Move into the taste and the temperature of the food
• Pay attention to if you’re chewing enough or just inhaling your bites
• how does your belly feel?
• Take your time with each bite and eat with intention

Courses

The mindful eating exercises and habits we have looked at above will help you to get started. But you might like to take things further. There are a lot of different teachers around the world. One good place to find a  course or teacher is via The Center For Mindful Eating.

 

4 Benefits of Mindful Eating

There are many scientifically-proven benefits of mindful eating.

1: Weight Loss

One of the most significant benefits of mindful eating is weight loss [2]. Yes, you can use mindful eating to lose weight, and it has been proven to be highly effective.

It helps with weight loss because it makes it more conscious of our relationship with food and gives us more mental control over our dietary habits.

This can be huge for binge eating [3].

In my experience, mindfulness helps to control my emotions and Ive found that because of this it does also help me to eat more healthily and to stop comfort eating. It also improves my willpower and has overall improved my dietary habits.

2: Improves nutrition:

It can be very easy to slip into a habit of simply scoffing down whatever. We’re in a rush. We don’t have time to prepare proper food. But we’re hungry. So we just eat whatever fills us up. The problem is we are mindless. When you become more aware of food, through mindful eating, you’ll naturally choose foods consciously, which will lead to more varied and nutritious meals (this is not backed by science but is my personal experience).

3: Helps diabetics

Research shows that it is as effective in managing Type 2 Diabetes as the more traditional nutrition-based diet approaching when it comes to managing blood sugar levels and weight. [4]

4: Aids Digestion

Research shows a positive link between mindful eating and digestion. [5]

Digestion involves complex hormonal signals between the nervous system and the digestive system. It takes approximately twenty minutes for us to get that feeling of being full. If we eat too quickly, we often overeat before we get the message telling us to stop.  This can cause serious digestion problems.

Author and nutritionist Lilian Cheung, together with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, produced research that shows that mindful eating leads to slower food consumption, which lets the body tell us that we are full so we do not overeat.

So, through mindful eating, we give our bodies time to digest, and we are less likely to overeat.

Download PDF click here

CONCLUSION

There are so many benefits of mindful eating. The script above makes it easy to get started. And what’s best is that it is an enjoyable activity. We get to improve our health and wellbeing through a very easy and relaxing practice. It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you’re trying to lose weight, working on a disorder, or simply want to appreciate food more, try it. It’s free, and it’s a win-win.

Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.

SOURCES:

1: How Your Eating Habits Affect Your Health, National Institutes of Health, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/05/how-your-eating-habits-affect-your-health

2: Mindful eating may help with weight loss, Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/mindful-eating-may-help-with-weight-loss

3: Greater mindful eating practice is associated with better reversal learning, Lieneke K. Janssen, adboud University, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5890263/

4: Diabetes study: ‘Mindful eating’ equals traditional education in lowering weight and blood sugar, Ohio State University, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108181136.htm

5:  Mindful eating, Hearvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School  https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

basics of mindful eating

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About Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.


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