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Mind your Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is one of the simplest and yet most challenging recommendations that I regularly make for many of my nutrition clients.

The definition of mindful eating is eating with awareness.

A way of connecting with food and our body’s response to it. Eating with full awareness means that we are more likely to notice hunger and fullness cues. We will also enjoy and appreciate our food more.

Many of us eat too quickly, with distractions all around, hardly paying attention to what we are eating.

Eating this way is quite stressful, which can affect metabolism and even lead to digestive issues.

Digestion starts in the head and if we are worried, tired, distracted - stress initiates the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Eating in this state will result in feelings of bloating, gas or stomach cramps because all blood is being sent to the muscles and brain for protection, not to the gut for digestion.

We need to get into a ‘rest and digest’ state to digest and absorb the nutrients from our food. Simply taking three full breaths can help transfer us from fight or flight to rest and digest.

Mindful eating encourages present moment awareness using all the senses to step away from our usual way of eating. If we are to build a healthy relationship with food and digestion, it helps to take some time to slow down and give eating our full focus.

  • While thinking about and preparing food our gastric secretions begin to be released, they will be needed to breakdown nutrients, when the food enters the stomach.

  • Remove digital distractions, a big sticking point, especially for those living and eating alone. Focus on the fact you are only eating for 10-15 minutes and take some of this time to think about which film, music or social media you want to engage with next.

  • Slow down, make time to eat, sit at a table, take three full breaths.

  • Use all your senses smell, texture, flavour, spend time making the plate look visually appealing.

  • Chew well, enzymes in saliva are an important part of the digestion process.

  • Notice what you are eating, when you are full, how it makes you feel. Acknowledge any guilt or anxiety you have around food, let it go, enjoy the food.

  • Savour your food, appreciate it where was it produced how did is get to your plate?

  • Think of all the nourishment it is providing for you.

These practices take time to become second nature, but they will enable you to obtain optimum nutrition from food.


A mindfulness practice you could try occasionally before eating your main meal.

  • Choose a piece of food - slice of carrot, a satsuma segment, anything really... Look at it closely, noticing the irregular patterns. How many colours you can see?

  • Next, feel with your fingers, noticing the texture, the roughness, the smoothness. Give it a gentle squeeze.

  • Then bring it to your nose, what does it smells like. Scratch the skin slightly, how is that different?

  • Hold it to the light, what can you see?

  • And as you do this, you might also notice salivation taking place?

  • Touch it to your lips and anticipate eating it, just noticing what that’s like.

  • Place the segment on tongue and hold it for a moment – don’t bite yet. What is the taste like?

  • Bite into it, what is the flavour like, now?

  • What does it sound like? Crunchy, squeaky...

  • Which teeth do the biting and the chewing, noticing the movement of your jaw muscles?

  • Perhaps you are already noticing the urge to swallow it?

  • Keep chewing slowly, when you are ready, deliberately choose to swallow it.

  • Noticing what happens in your mouth.

  • Just take a moment now to savour the experience, just sit with it.

  • Even though you’ve finished eating, the experience is still there, the taste of it, you can continue enjoying it even after you’ve swallowed it, rather than rushing on to the next bite.


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