In this guide, I will show you all the basics of mindful eating, including a mindful eating script and the benefits of mindful eating exercises.
You might also like to read my guide to weight loss meditation techniques, too.
What Are Mindful Eating Exercises?
If you’ve ever wolfed down food only to realise that you were barely conscious while eating, then mindful eating exercises are 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 exercises are based on the concept of mindfulness, a Buddhist term that translated from Sanskrit means “Awareness”.
You’ve likely heard 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. However, it is also helpful for controlling food cravings and making us more aware of our food.
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 exercises. [READ: Getting Started With Mindfulness].
With mindful eating exercises we become more aware of food
According to psychotherapist Karen R Koenig M.Ed, LCSW, “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.
Basically, it’s about being aware. And this is crucial.
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.
If we are honest, the majority of us do not practice mindful eating. We’re more likely to eat food mindlessly, to down a tub of ice-cream rather than mindfully eat a raisin.
And if that sounds like you, you will definitely benefit from mindful eating.
Basics of Mindful Eating Exercises
Mindful eating exercises are basically about being conscious of eating.
Some ways to do this are:
- Focusing on body triggers associated with food
- Chewing slowly
- Being aware of the sensory experience of eating
- Being grateful for food
- Noticing how the body feels after eating
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.
Problems with mindless eating.
Eating too fast and mindlessly interrupts communication between the brain and gut . In turn, this can cause problems for the glycemic index (GI), as well as gas and bloating. It can also prevent us from experiencing the fullness signal. And in turn, this could cause overeating. Indeed, mindless eating can lead to binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, food cravings, and weight gain.
Mindful eating means eating slowly and with awareness.
When we eat mindfully, we train the mind to eat when hungry and to pay attention. This improves communication between the brain and gut and can improve digestion and GI. It also reduces stress, which is a cause of obesity. And all this just by changing the way you think about food.
Plus, it’s a wonderful way to start meditating.
In 2012 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? Try the following mindful eating scripts.
Mindful Eating Scripts & Exercises For Adults & Kids
There is no right or wrong way to eat mindfully. Basically, what matters is your intention. You must bring the right attitude to food.
In How To Eat, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh 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 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
- To do this exercise, you will need a chocolate bar.
- Sit comfortably and take ten deep breaths through your nose, and out through the mouth, just to calm and focus your mind.
- Pick up your chocolate bar. Unwrap it. Now hold it in your hand.
- Before you bite into the chocolate, observe it. Notice it. Notice the shape, the weight, the texture. Simply be aware of the chocolate.
- 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.
- 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.
- Now swallow and be mindfully aware of what happens in your body.
- Continue in this way. Again, it’s not about a precise process. It’s more about intent. It’s about being awake and aware of the process of eating.
Some of my online meditation students have asked why we eat chocolate in this mindful eating exercise.
The food you eat is based on your thoughts and feelings about that food. This exercise makes us aware of our feelings and cravings for food and therefore increases conscious control of our food choices.
Eating one chocolate bar for this exercise will help you to say no to chocolate in the future.
Mindful Raisin Exercise Script
The mindful raising exercise is one of the most popular mindful eating scripts. Here’s how to do it.
- Place a single raisin in front of you.
- Take a minimum of twenty breaths to calm and focus your mind.
- Look at the raisin. Mindfully observe the raisin visually.
- Now pick the raisin up. Notice what it feels like. What texture does it have?
- Now bite into the raisin slowly. Notice how the raisin changes as you bite into it.
- Meditate on the flavours of the raisin and on the way it feels in your mouth.
- Swallow and meditate on the aftertaste of the raisin.
This simple exercise trains the mind to be more appreciative of the experience of eating healthy food in small quantities.
Mindful Eating Script for Kids
If you want to teach your kids mindful eating, try this script.
- 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.
- Does the food make a sound? Does the food make any sound? How about when you bite into it?
- What do you smell?
- How does it feel in your hand and in your mouth?
- 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.
Mindful Eating Tips
Here are some of the most important basics of mindful eating to follow:
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t calorie count. If you are aware of food and body signals, that will be enough.
- 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.
- Eat with your mind: Make sure your mind is actively engaged in the process.
- Cook mindfully: 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.
- Remember this mindful eating mantra: “I will be mindfully awake to all the food I eat.”
- Note that you can also use mindfulness to quit drinking
- Diet: It’s best to practice mindful eating exercises on a diet like the Mediterranean Diet–fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- 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).
- Pay attention to body signals like hunger and fullness. Observe and accept these sensations rather than judging them.
- Eat in the right place: In the direct room. At the table. Not in front of the TV.
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 eating for comfort. Start shifting your focus to a need-based relationship with food. Educate yourself on what kind of foods will nourish your body and what kinds of food are empty calories.
2- Be 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 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) how will the food affect the mind and body – feeling bloated, tired and perhaps quilty?.
3: These tips from Amber DiPietro [Pravasana Holistic Health & Wellness]
• Avoid multi-tasking. This means putting away the electronics, turning off the tv, stopping social media, and just eating.
• 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 Exercises
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 . 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 .
In my experience, mindfulness helps to control my emotions and, in turn, helps me eat more healthily and stop comfort eating. It also improves my willpower and has overall improved my dietary habits.
2: Improves nutrition:
It’s too easy to slip into a habit of scoffing down food. 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 exercises, 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 mindful eating exercises are equally as helpful for managing Type 2 Diabetes as the traditional nutrition-based diet approach and also effective in managing blood sugar levels and weight according to a scientific study by Ohio State University. 
4: Aids Digestion
Research from Harvard Medical School shows a positive link between mindful eating and digestion.
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 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.
Download our Mindful Eating PDF here
There are so many benefits of mindful eating exercises. 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 an amazingly 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.
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