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What Is Mindful Eating?

Two people eating sandwiches, looking at each other. Text overlay says "what is mindful eating?"

Are you confused about what “mindful eating” means? You’re not alone. Googling the term turns up loads of interpretations and advice. And unfortunately, the term has been used by those promoting dieting and weight loss.

The official definition of mindful eating

The Center For Mindful Eating is a non-profit providing resources to professionals and consumers to explore and learn how to apply mindfulness practices to their relationships with food and eating. They define mindful eating as “allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.” They also clarify, “TCME does not endorse any philosophy or program that includes or promotes weight loss measures or procedures because evidence does not support that it deepens or improves an individual’s mindful eating practice.”

black text on tan background that says "mindful eating is NOT about weight loss"

mindful eating vs. intuitive eating

While mindful eating and intuitive eating are similar, they are not the same thing. Intuitive eating is a broad approach that includes mindful eating strategies, and much more. In the Intuitive Eating book, they talk about connected eating – which is another way to think about mindfulness. Are you connected or are you disconnected while eating?

While the principles of mindful eating can be left open to interpretation, it’s clear they were not meant for dieting purposes. So if you’re wondering how to incorporate mindful eating strategies into your self-care, consider the following.

Girl smiling and eating food with text overlay that says "10 strategies for mindful eating" from Taylor Wolfram

What mindful eating may look like:

  • Tuning in to physical hunger and appetite before eating
  • Pausing occasionally while eating to do a quick body scan
  • Using all 5 senses to pay attention while eating
  • Avoiding use of mobile devices while eating
  • Sitting at a table (rather than in front of TV) while eating
  • Tuning in to physical fullness and satiation while eating
  • Learning about where your food comes from and how it is grown
  • Choosing foods based on religious or ethical beliefs (i.e. Halal, Kosher, vegan, etc.)
  • Enjoying the emotional, social and cultural experience of eating
  • Practicing non-judgmental curiosity while eating


What mindful eating does not look like:

  • Counting calories, macros, etc.
  • Tracking every morsel of food you eat
  • Restricting or avoiding certain foods from a dieting or weight loss motivation
  • Thinking about food all day long
  • Only eating when physically hungry (rejecting the validity of emotional eating)
  • Judging and shaming while eating
  • Categorizing foods into “good” and “bad”
  • Believing there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to eat
  • Enforcing self-control with food

 

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