Wellness

The 7 Practices Of Mindful Eating

How often have you eaten on the run or tried to eat while you are reading, talking on the phone etc? I know I am guilty of having done those things.

In recent years, I’ve learned to respect food more and make every meal a ritual of sorts. For this, I must give credit to José. Since most often the food is prepared by either one or both of us, eating and enjoying it together is important.

Some years ago, I read about the whole concept of mindful eating. This has its roots in Buddhism. Disciples of Buddhism are encouraged to try various forms of meditation – focusing on their breathing, or meditating in different postures while sitting, standing or walking. Similarly they are encouraged to meditate while eating. This creates more consciousness about what they are eating and to focus on the present moment.

However this practice has received  secular attention too. Experts say that when we focus on what we are eating and savour each morsel, the food not only tastes better but we eat less and more healthy too. Binge eating, comfort eating and overeating can all be prevented by us becoming more conscious of what we eat, when we eat and why we eat when we do!

Dr Lillian Cheung, Lecturer and Director of Health Promotion & Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, has dedicated herself to promoting this concept. She co-authored with the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh to write Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

The rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster, so we really don’t have the same awareness and the same ability to check into ourselves. That’s why mindful eating is becoming more important. We need to be coming back to ourselves and saying: ‘Does my body need this? Why am I eating this? Is it just because I’m so sad and stressed out?’
~ Dr Lillian Cheung

So what are the practices of mindful eating?

Often, those of us who are privileged, take food for granted. We don’t take time to recall where the food is coming from – all the work that went into getting it onto our plate.  This is especially true when we eat packaged food.  I’ve realized, from my own experience, that when I make food from scratch I enjoy it so much more. It’s important for us to take time to prepare our own meals and preferably from fresh ingredients. We must learn to honour the food we eat.

I would also like to add that it’s important to say a word of thanks to God and the Universe recalling to your mind all the hands that toiled to get that food on your plate – starting from the farmers and moving up the whole cycle. A word of thanks to the person who prepared it too is important.

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I particularly recall an episode of the Kylie Kwong Show in which shetravels to Shandong, the homeland of Confucius. This master of philosophy is also considered the father of Chinese culinary arts. I was amazed at how important Confucius considered the preparation and presentation of food. He said that colour, aroma, flavour and texture are most important in food. We are encouraged to engage all the senses when eating. Although it’s considered bad manners, I love to smell food before eating it.  Do you?

It is suggested that that we use smaller plates to eat – the larger the plate, the more you eat. Being aware of the serving size helps us not to overeat.

We tend to serve ourselves more when we are distracted. Therefore, it’s important that we don’t  multi-task – when you eat, you eat. 🙂

Chewing food leads to better digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in our food. This is because when we chew our food properly, digestive enzymes are released that help in the absorption of nutrients. We are advised to chew 20-30 times before we swallow. One good practice is to lay down the fork/spoon between mouthfuls.

It is important to signal the end of a meal to oneself by getting up from the table and clearing it. In a restaurant, we could request the waiter to clear our plate. When we hang around unfinished food, there’s a tendency to keep eating. Sometimes, not having good ways to store food, makes us eat to finish it, thus leading to overeating.

Finally, after we have eaten, we should become aware of how the food we ate makes us feel. Some foods make us feel energetic, some make us feel thirsty, others puffed up. All these are signals of the food choices we should make in the future.

Even as I write this post, I’m becoming more aware of how much more I have to incorporate the practices of mindful eating into my life.  Do you practice mindful eating?


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An inspirational writer, a creativity and writing trainer/coach, I write about life, gratitude, healing, wellness, relationships at Everyday Gyaan. I offer training/coaching to anyone looking to explore their creativity and heal through writing via The Frangipani Creative, located in Secunderabad, India. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, Bytes of Gyaan, on Substack.

102 Comments on “The 7 Practices Of Mindful Eating

  1. Thanks for this insightful post.

    I do not practice mindful eating at all. Even though with every meal I don’t forget to thank God for putting the food on our table, I still have to get some discipline around how I savor each morsel. Most days, I just gobble the food time due to paucity of time either due to work or household chores. Guess, I need to get mindful.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. I am sure that if you decide to practice mindful eating, you will become quite proficient. In fact, besides eating less, you will also begin to pace yourself better, by making the right choices as to what work or chore is really important to you.

  2. Hi Corinne

    I use smaller plates at lunch and try to eat lots of vegetables for lunch. Have smoothie in mid afternoon and fruit after dinner. On the weekend usually have a forbidden dessert.
    In restaurants they serve too much food. Hubby and I go out for lunch once in awhile as they serve less for that meal. We usually share the meal, although it does save money, the real purpose is so that we don’t eat more food than what we want. When you pay for food at a restaurant you feel you should eat a bit more than half even if you don’t want it. We also only drink water with our meals. They don’t make so much with us being customers but they don’t have to live in this body.
    We definitely need to take care of what we put in our mouths.

    Mary

    1. Yes, at a restaurant, we do tend to eat a little bit more. In India, we have an expression that describes the motivation to do so; ‘paisa vasool’, which translated means getting full value. Actually, we find it a better proposition to go in for take away food, when we are not cooking. We tend to eat less, as we have the option of refrigerating the leftovers.

  3. What a great post Corinne!! Where our lives have really become a roller coaster…it is essential to remind ourselves on these small yet important aspects of Life. How many times as kids did we hear our Moms tell us ‘Eat slowly, chew properly, taste it don’t gobble’. They were not nagging, but instilling in us this mindfulness!!

    1. Our lives have indeed become a roller coaster ride. And mindful eating is certainly a means to slow the tempo. And yes, Moms did instill mindfulness, without having ever heard the expression.

  4. Super post Corinne. Most times I am guilty of not being in that moment when I eat. But the rare times that I have, it has actually made the meal a whole lot more delightful. Thank you for the reminder. Mindfulness in everything we do is important to live a peaceful and energetic life. Loved your post

    1. Thanks for your comment, Suzy. We are so caught up chasing our tail that we forget the benefits of mindful eating. As it the few extra minutes that we would spend in mindful eating will cause us to miss a deadline.

  5. Thanks Corinne. Thank you for a wonderful reminder and some insight. I need to revise my eating habits and guess along with the seven day blog challenge I should take the food habit challenge too.

  6. This was such a nice post highlighting some of the oft forgotten aspects of eating. As you have mentioned in your post, nowadays eating seems to have become more of a chore than an activity which is enjoyed on a daily basis, and even I am guilty of the same.

    However, this post has probably acted as a good wake up call for me and will surely try and implement as many of these points as I can starting from my next meal.

    Nice start to the Write Tribe Festival of Words…

  7. No Corrine …unfortunately I don’t practice mindful eating at all . Most often I gulp down my food hurriedly and as you rightly pointed out , I tend to overeat . I think now is the time to start . Coincidentally , even the post I’ve scheduled contains something about this aspect 🙂 Now I am convinced great hearts think alike 🙂

  8. Corrine, this is such an eye-opener. Though at my parents place, it was mandatory to give due respect to the food we eat, I now eat my breakfast running from post to pillar. My breakfast usually is consumed while running to catch the cab and lunch is taken while playing around with Excel. I do feel sorry and guilty, but that’s how it is. Let me see if I van bring in some order to the otherwise disordered routine. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We are all caught up in a whirlwind of activities. No time to stand and stare. And even if you have to eat on the run, you can still eat mindfully. In other words, whilst eating, you focus on eating.

  9. Guilty of not practicing mindful eating.

    What a insightful post. And kudos to you both for practicing mindful eating.

    Often, those of us who are privileged, take food for granted.——- this is the saddest and cruelest reality and i am ashamed to realize that i fall into the category too.

    Completely agree that it is very important to thank God and the universe. I remember how it was a part of our life and our every meal when we were in school. Sigh! how we leave behind the good habits. 🙁

    I have also noticed that when the serving plate is of smaller size, it helps. I have this habit to eat in small bowls and yes it has made me feel full even my eating considerably less.

    1st thing first i got to stop eating while i do other works.

    Wonderful post. I have learnt and realized my mistakes regarding food and eating habits. I hope to bring change soon.

  10. This is such an insightful post! We take eating like a chore, take it for granted and forget to enjoy and savor. KG who is a foodie never fails to smell, see, taste and enjoy every bite… seeing him relish every morsel is a delight!

  11. With the rate at which my waist size is increasing I need to exercise all kinds of mindful eating. Jokes apart loved your post. I too love smelling the food and taste each dish separately to enjoy each flavors.

  12. Mindful eating is Step 1 to staying healthy. In fact, in current times, not noticing what we eat or “grabbing” something on the go is the worst thing. After all, food gives us energy and nutrition and respecting it is a great way to be grateful to life itself.

    Loved this post! Fab start to the Festival.

  13. Absolutely right, Corinne. Thank you for writing about it. I do try to do mindful eating, practice gratitude, meditate and exercise daily. Trying to not let the negative ones bother me too. The end result is always on our health, right!

  14. Strangely enough, when I get Take Away food or packaged food is the time I think more of the effort that has gone into it. I am surer people stayed awake, worked hard to get it on to the shelves for me to carry it home and make a meal out of it with so much ease. Similarly people at a restaurant work all sorts of early and late hours so we can sit down to a good meal. It is impossible to forget the people behind what you eat. 🙂
    I have had most meals by myself. That’s how the lifestyle has been for me as an infantry officer’s wife. 🙂 Now at least dinners are had together 🙂

    1. Yes, remembering all those behind what you eat is very important. In fact, I believe, that without remembering all the people involved, you cannot eat mindfully, in the true sense of the word.

  15. Not much of a mindful eater but I am getting better at this Corinne.

    One experience which thought me mindful eating was a silent meditation retreat. We couldn’t talk or read or watch tv so I actually ate my food for a week or so paying attention to the taste and texture of the food. Not surprisingly, the food began to taste delicious as I began to become more mindful of it.

    I try to employ this in my day to day life and with moderate success. Also, as of late, I’m making more conscious decisions of what I eat and keep away from what I shouldn’t be eating. Makes me feel healthier and better about myself. Thank you for the reminder to do more mindful eating:)

    1. Good for you that you are already well on the path to mindful eating. Yes, a mediation retreat is probably the best place to practice mindful eating. And yes, as you become mindful, food certainly tastes delicious.

  16. Thanks for the right ways of eating and I will follow them. I eat very fast and hurriedly at times running from here to there. It’s said that food is first seen and tasted later. So the food should be appealing to the eyes first and should invite and tantalize the person to taste it. That’s why in Hindu traditions the person who cooks the food is equated to Mata Annaporna’ or Goddesses.

  17. Another one that is being printed as we speak – you were truly reading my mind today. I need gyaan more than anyone else that had visited your blog today Corinne – thank you for everything, or may be I cannot just thank you enough!
    🙂

  18. i never thought about eating in such an insightful little way! to me, i have always followed not wasting a morsel of food served on my plate, but ur post tells me there is more..the holistic way to eating makes sense and thanks for sharing!

  19. Thanks for all the reminders about mindful eating. I really liked your take on it. I’ve been going to Weight Watchers for 3 years straight now and am trying to be more mindful when I eat. I’ve lost 25 pounds and am trying to lose more which is not easy as my body likes me at this weight now. It would take much more work to get me there. Oh well. A super model I ain’t but I feel healthier! Some days I fall into my bad habits of sweet binging or mindless eating when I’m bored or upset. You have given me more good ideas to think about when eating such as appreciating where it came from, and the Buddha practice of meditation and being aware. Thanks so much! I must print out your blog post and refer to it.

    1. I really glad that you found this post useful to complement the Weight Watchers program. Yes, there are days when we binge ore eat mindlessly. More so when bored or upset. Hope these tips will help on such days.

  20. Guilty here for not practicing the mindful eating habits. Eating on the run or while multitasking is something I do all the time. Only thing I follow is not to waste food and take just what I need… But this is full of Gyaan of what I never thought and will keep in mind from now onward.

  21. Good one Corinne! I’m reading the book, God Women and Food for the second time. This book is based on mindful eating. I still eat in front of the TV sometimes, which is a big no no…hard habit to break! LOL!

  22. I agree with a lot of points mentioned in the post. But the most I agree to is of course the element of cooking your own food. Not only do you savour it but also wasting it makes you feel all the more guilty. And in the world we live all kinds of wastage should be condemned but mostly Food!

    1. Yes, cooking your own food and then savoring it is the ultimate in mindful eating. Today, some people seem to have so much, that wastage is a norm. Whilst many go to bed with an empty stomach.

  23. I am not a mindful eater but am not a mindless eater either 😛
    that meditation part works with me though I dont do it procedurally
    least interested in cooking but interested in eating when husband cooks
    Some how my disinterest helps me eat less
    GOOD TIPS all in all corinne

  24. Somehow I feel that our ancestors were better off without all the science and technology. It would be great if the concepts of praying before you eat, and of Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Sigh!

  25. These are wonderful tips! I appreciate what you said about being thankful for the food in front of you! Too many people take that for granted!

  26. I so agree with the concept of mindful eating. The meals I have while talking on the phone or watching TV, I don’t know where they go because I get hungry soon after!
    I have started taking about 20 minutes and kind of enjoying every bite than just gulping it all down in flat 5 minutes, which I used to do earlier!