In this guide, I will show you all the basics of mindful eating, including a mindful eating script and the benefits of mindful eating.  You might also like to read my guide to weight loss meditation techniques, too. 

What Is Mindful Eating? An Explanation

If you’ve ever wolfed down a whole chocolate bar only to realise that you were barely conscious while eating, then mindful eating is for you. 

Mindful eating is basically a  mindfulness meditation exercise based on food and drink. Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. states that it is about “paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body.”

Mindful Eating is based on the concept of mindfulness, a Buddhist term that translated from Sanskrit means “Awareness”. You’ve likely hear about the benefits of mindfulness for stress and anxiety. Studies show that mindfulness helps to promote the parasympathetic nervous system to produce feelings of relaxation, but it is also  helpful for controlling food cravings and for making us more aware of our food, which is perhaps one reason why mindfulness is a fundamental aspect of Ayurveda. 

Mindfulness has evolved recently and now includes therapies like the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course created by Jon Kabat Zinn, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and indeed, Mindful Eating. But what exactly is mindful eating? 

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]. This directly relates to the way we eat. We can choose to be more aware of food and of eating by practicing mindful eating.

According to Karen R Koenig M.Ed, LCSW, and psychology of eating psychotherapist, “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 the body. [While eating mindfully] 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, ] 

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 eat mindlessly, to down a tub of ice-cream than we are to eat a raisin mindfully.mindful eating meme

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.

Some ways to do this are:

If we look at mindful eating VS mindless eating, the differences are mostly about speed and awareness. Mindless eating is when we eat too fast, barely aware of chewing or flavours. Mindful eating is the opposite, it is chewing slowly and being mindful of both food and the body’s reaction to it.

There are real concerns around mindless eating. Eating too fast and mindlessly interrupts communication between the brain and gut, which can cause Eating too quickly and mindlessly also disturbs the communication between gut and brain, which can cause problems for our glycemic index  (GI), as well as gas and bloating, and can prevent us from experiencing the fullness signal, which can cause overeating. Mindless eating can cause issues with binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, food cravings, and weight gain.  

Mindful eating means eating slowly and with awareness. Doing so trains the mind to consume food when hungry and to pay attention, and helps with communication between brain and guy and can improve digestion and GI. It also reduces stress, which is a cause of obesity. All this just by changing the way you think about food and the way you eat.

Plus, it’s also a great way to start meditating. In 20122 the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report stating that the average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating, Imagine if you were meditating that whole time.

So, clearly there are significant benefits of mindful eating. How do you do it? Simply use the following mindful eating scripts.

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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.

In How To Eat, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh that says, ““Refrain from discussing subjects that can destroy your awareness of the people around you and the food. If someone is thinking about something other than the good food on the table, such as his difficulties in the office or with friends, it means he is losing the present moment and the food. You can help by returning his attention to the meal.” That is the heart of it. Try getting started with the following mindful eating scripts. 

Chocolate Mindful Eating 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. Now 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 about 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 of eating.

Mindful Eating Script For Kids 

If you want to teach your kids mindful eating, try this script.

Try this simple children’s exercise.

 


 

 Tips

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. You also don’t need to calorie count. If you are aware of food and body signals, that will be enough.
  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
  8. Diet: It’s best to practice mindful eating on a diet similar to the Mediterranean Diet–fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. But it is possible to do it with any type of food
  9. Shopping list: Make an intention of filling your shopping list with items that will make it enjoyable to eat mindfully (mostly nutritional, healthy foods with a variety of textures and colours).
  10. Pay attention to body signals like hunger and fullness. Observe and accept these sensations rather than judging them.
  11. Eat in the right place: Stop eating in front of the TV, while checking your phone, while on the computer, while driving, and other times when you are active. Doing so will make you eat on Auto Pilot. Instead, be aware. There’s a Thich Nhat Hanh quote that says, “When sitting sit.” “When eating eat”.

 


 

 More 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

 

 

Mindful Eating 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 according to Harvard Medical School [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 I’ve 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 according to a scientific study by Ohio State University. [4]

 

 

4: Aids Digestion

Research  from Harvard Medical School 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.

 

 

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

basics of mindful eating

Written by 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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