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What is Mindful Eating and How Do I Do It?

We’re almost two months into 2024, and I can imagine many of us are still working to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions of eliminating sugar, processed foods, dairy, etc. from our diets.

As someone who has traveled down that path many times before, I come to you with another – and potentially more sustainable – option: mindful eating.

I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness before – it’s a way to pause our chaotic and busy lives to take a moment to ourselves. It’s listening to the birds while on a walk outside, pausing our doom scrolling to actively listen to our partner’s day at work, or taking a deep breath before sending an email.

Mindful eating is exactly as it sounds – taking a moment to be fully present before, during, and after eating. Mindful eating is noticing if you’re even hungry before you eat, and if so, what exactly you're hungry for (without judging yourself for it!). It’s being present with the colors, shapes, smells, textures, and flavors of a single bite, and noticing when you’re feeling full.

Below are a few steps to practice mindful eating. 

  1. Find a quiet space where you can be fully present with your food and eliminate distractions. I recommend your kitchen table or somewhere similar. 

  2. Choose a small piece of food. For example, a blueberry, a peanut M&M, a cherry tomato, or a Hershey’s Kiss. 

  3. Closely examine the food in your hand. What color is it? What shape is it? What does it feel like?

  4. Smell it. What does it smell like? Notice if your mouth starts to water.

  5. Put the food in your mouth without swallowing it. What does it taste like?

  6. Slowly chew the food, one bite at a time. How does the texture change as you chew?

  7. Swallow it. How does the food feel going down your throat? Entering your belly?

  8. Notice how you feel. How do you feel after taking that bite? Did you enjoy it, or not so much?

I want to end this all by saying – if you eat a whole sleeve of Oreos and/or an entire bag of chips in one sitting, you are absolutely still worthy of love and respect. Eating a bit more (or a lot more) just means you are in need of a little extra comfort. Or maybe you're just hungry!

My favorite ways to get a little extra comfort (in addition to eating a snack!) include calling a friend, taking a bubble bath, going on a long walk, and napping. What about you?


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