woman mindful eating piece of chocolate

The easiest nutrition improvement you can make right now is to eat more mindfully. Even without changing the foods you eat, eating more mindfully can have a big impact on your health and weight loss goals.

When you improve how you eat, you’ll naturally improve what you eat.

What is mindful eating?

Eating mindfully means being fully present for each bite, chew, sip and swallow. It’s being aware of your surroundings and what’s going on inside your body. When you engage your senses, you can connect with the present moment and learn to enjoy food in a more nourishing way.

Although “being mindful” is a simple concept, it can be extremely challenging in our fast-paced culture. That’s why it’s important to practice daily.

MINDFUL EATING EXERCISE: Start by being mindful of your first three bites or sips. It’s the combination of awareness and small changes that produce effective and sustainable results.

Mindful Eating Tips

Recognize Hunger

When creating mindful eating habits, it’s important to recognize what urges you to eat. Does your body tell you what to eat? Are you eating to physically satisfy hunger or thirst? Or are you emotionally eating to fill an area of your life that feels incomplete? Recognizing the difference between actual hunger and emotional hunger can help you lose weight.

Increase Enjoyment

With endless health tips, the pressure to make magazine cover meals, and a cultural obsession with analyzing food, it’s easy to find fault with what’s on your plate. Instead of enjoying food, you feel restricted with what you “should” consume and guilty about what you “shouldn’t” consume. The good news is, mindfulness makes eating enjoyable by helping you listen to your body instead of external sources.

Develop a Mealtime Ritual

Did you know that singing happy birthday makes cake taste better? Develop a mealtime routine or ritual to increase mindfulness before you eat. Healthy pre-meal rituals include cooking, blessing your food and expressing gratitude before you dig in.

MINDFUL EATING EXERCISE…

Create a mindful meal routine that nourishes your body with more than just food.

Create Comfort

Set up for mindful eating success by creating a comfortable dining experience. Use soft lighting, soothing music, and simple table settings. An undistracted environment makes mindfulness easier, which promotes slower meals and prevents overeating. Unplug from technology, set the table, add flowers, light a candle, etc. Create a distraction-free zone so that you can focus on eating.

Check Posture

Be mindful of your posture. Check your posture before, during and after you meals. Are you slouched over or stiff as a board? Find a seated position that’s upright without being overly rigid. Let go of tension by breathing deeply into your belly and relaxing your shoulders down your back. This mindful eating tip can also support digestion.

Practice Gratitude

Being grateful is a very important mindful eating tip. Express gratitude to center yourself in the present moment. This will make it easier to be more mindful of your thoughts and actions. Take a moment before eating to give thanks and bless your food. Give gratitude for the time, work and effort it took to get each ingredient.

Savor More

A very enjoyable way to eat more mindfully is to savor more. Savor each bite by engaging your senses. Be mindful of the colors, textures, scents, tastes, and sounds during meals. Use fresh herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, cilantro, and basil, to boost flavor and heighten your senses.

How to Eat Slower

Want to know how to eat slower? Try this mindful eating exercise: Put down your utensils between bites, savor and breath.

Chew Thoroughly

The act of chewing releases flavors that increase satiation and enzymes that increase nutrient absorption. That means more nutrients with less food. Challenge yourself to chew each bite at least 30 times.

Slow Down

Lastly, another great mindful eating tip is to slow down. Check-in with your body throughout the meal and stop eating when you’re about 80% full. It takes about 20 minutes for the body to signal satiation so eat slowly.