Mindful eating has many layers to it, from chewing slowly and savoring the flavors of food, to appreciating where food comes from and how our food choices influence the environment. Being more present and mindful when we eat may increase satisfaction and enjoyment of meals, as well as lead to more appropriate portion sizes. On the other hand, mindless eating includes habits such as working or watching TV while eating, and eating too quickly to be attuned to the meal. Registered dietitian, lecturer, and director of Health Promotion & Communication in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition explains that “this mindless eating—a lack of awareness of the food we’re consuming—may be contributing to the national obesity epidemic and other health issues” [i].
Practicing mindful eating consistently will lead to a new habit, and may truly change one’s perspective on food sustainability, as well as hunger and fullness cues. Begin trying some mindful eating techniques with the following steps the next time you have a meal.
- Set a timer, aiming to have your meal last 20-30 minutes
- Divide your portion in half and begin taking small bites and chewing thoroughly
- Put your utensil down in between bites
- After you finish half of your portion, put your meal aside, and relax for 3-5 minutes
- Begin having the second half of your meal
Consider: How long did your meal last? How satisfied are you? Did you finish your meal? Did the pace feel slow and do you think you can try it again at your next meal?
[i] 8 steps to mindful eating. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating