How to Practice Mindful Eating
Q & A with Amanda Allen, MS, RDN, LD

Q: What is mindful eating?

A: Mindful eating is the act of being present in the moment and savoring your meals and the sensations they may bring. We live in a busy world that leads to us eating in our car, while we are working, or while we are looking at our tablets or phones. Taking a beat and being present with our food helps us to connect with our food and notice hunger and fullness cues more accurately.  

Q: What are the benefits of mindful eating?

A: Practicing mindful eating helps us to enjoy all foods. While healthful eating is focused on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains even your classic pizza night can fit into mindful eating because by being attentive to your meals it has been shown that you will indulge in the “less nutrient-dense” foods less often.  In addition, it has been shown to promote healthy weight management, digestion, and helps us to build a healthy relationship with food.  

Q: How do I start practicing mindful eating?

A: Being attentive to what sounds good, what looks good, what foods you are adding to your grocery list all contribute to mindful eating.  Be sure when you are making your purchases you are thinking about the nutrient value and appreciating the nourishment foods bring to your body.  

  1. Come to the table hungry by paying attention to your hunger cues.  Eating meals at the table away from distractions has been shown to improve mental health, helps us to eat more appropriate portion sizes, promotes more healthful food choices, and may help with our communication and connection skills if we are enjoying that meal with friends or family. 
  2. Take your time at mealtime by chewing thoroughly, taking deep breathes between bites, and being more aware of textures, flavors, and the aroma of your food.  Try to identify the different sensations that the separate ingredients bring. For example, the juiciness of your chicken, the heat from your spices, and a hint of tartness from fresh lemon juice.  

Q: What are some specific goals I can work towards to practice mindful eating?

A: 1. Start a food journal. Maybe you journal for 3 days, 7 days, or even a month.  Note what you are eating, the textures, flavors, aromas, and how you are feeling before and after. Are you full afterward? Are you still hungry?  If you are still hungry, it is okay to go back for seconds, but first, wait a few minutes and maybe have a glass of water first. 

2. Set a goal to enjoy a meal over 20-30 minutes. If you are currently scarfing down your meals over 5 minutes, aim for 10 minutes and slowly work your way up. You will notice a difference in how your body feels and processes your food the longer you take to enjoy your meal.  Your body will lead you in your nutritional needs the more you practice. 

Amanda’s nutrition philosophy is to promote optimal health and nourishment through a whole food nutrition plan and a positive relationship with food. She is excited to help guide you in finding your path toward being healthy based on your individual needs. Click here to learn more.

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