If you are trying to slow down and enjoy life or cultivate more mindfulness in your life, mindful eating is one practice that can help you do either. There are numerous health and wellness benefits of practicing mindfulness in your personal and professional life. 

If you are trying to slow down and enjoy life or cultivate more mindfulness in your life, mindful eating is one practice that can help you do either. There are numerous health and wellness benefits of practicing mindfulness in your personal and professional life. 

We will discuss hunger vs. appetite, the benefits of mindful eating, and how to start mindful eating. 

Hunger Vs. Appetite

Before we discuss mindful eating, it is important to understand the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is the physiological desire to eat and is controlled mostly by internal cues, such as hormones and an empty stomach. If you haven’t eaten in a while, your body will release hormones to make you feel hungry. 

Appetite is the psychological desire to eat and is controlled mostly by external factors. Those external factors can be social reasons, food aromas, stress, emotions, or boredom. Mindful eating focuses on listening to your hunger cues and not letting your appetite take control of when you eat. 

What is Mindful Eating?

You may have heard the term mindfulness, which means to be fully aware of and focus on the present moment. Mindfulness encourages conscious awareness, being intentional, and living in the moment. 

Mindful eating is a practice to help you slow down, enjoy your food, and enjoy mealtime. Have you ever eaten a meal or snack only to realize afterward that you didn’t taste the food, or your plate or bowl became empty before you even realized it? That’s mindless eating, which is the opposite of mindful eating. 

The concept of mindful eating moves away from dieting and counting calories. The emphasis is on enjoying your food and being fully present while eating a meal or snack. It is more about the experience of eating rather than the composition or outcome of your food choices. 

Mindful eating focuses on listening to your hunger cues. Before you eat, consider if you are truly hungry. Many times we eat for boredom or emotional reasons, which isn’t always a good practice to have. 

Our lives are busy and we are so used to multitasking. We eat lunch at our desks or in our car while doing other tasks. Mindful eating means focusing on your meal and food and eliminating distractions. 

Important attributes to mindful eating and mindfulness include patience, non-judgment, trust, acceptance, and letting go. Think of coming into the experience with a beginner’s mind and no prior judgments or expectations. 

Mindful eating does not just focus on the actual eating of a meal. It can also affect when you are buying and preparing foods as well. 

The Benefits of Mindful Eating

Mindfulness and mindful eating are practices to help improve your mental health by slowing down, focusing, and enjoying life. It can help build a positive relationship with food and is one way to improve self-care. 

Slowing down can help you listen to your body’s hunger cues more efficiently. There are hormones that both trigger hunger and satiety, the feeling of fullness. While weight loss and weight management are not the focus of mindful eating, some individuals may notice these benefits. 

Mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness meditation and mindful eating, also have mental health benefits. They can help lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as help boost mood and positive thoughts.

No matter what you weigh or if you desire to gain, maintain, or lose weight, you can try mindful eating as a practice in your life. Mindful eating can help you eat healthier, enjoy mealtime, decrease stress, and cultivate a practice of mindfulness in your own life.

You can use a life insurance weight chart or your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you are considered to be underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. 

Life insurance is important for all adults to help protect your family’s finances and provide for end-of-life expenses if something unexpected happens to you. Rates for life insurance are the cheapest when you are young and healthy. If you have medical issues or are overweight or obese, your life insurance rates will be higher. 

How to Start Mindful Eating: 10 Steps

Anyone can start mindful eating anytime, anywhere. There are no special foods or tools that you need, other than an open mind and willingness to practice. Here is one easy mindful eating activity to help you understand this practice. All you need is a small piece of chocolate or a raisin.

1. Find a relaxing and calm space. Get a small piece of chocolate or one raisin. Place it in front of you. 

2. Take a few slow deep breaths before you begin. Express gratitude for this moment and for the ability to enjoy this food in front of you. 

3. First, before you eat the piece of chocolate or raisin, look at it carefully and observe the surface, texture, and color. Pick it up and feel it in your hand. Notice the shape, ridges, or any other features on this object. 

4. Smell the piece of chocolate or raisin. Enjoy the aroma. 

5. Put the object in between your lips and hold it there for a few seconds. Notice any feelings you have at this moment. 

6. Roll the piece of chocolate or raisin into your mouth and let it sit there for a few seconds to let it melt. Try not to bite it yet. What does it taste like?

7. Take one bite. Notice the flavor. 

8. Slowly, take one more bite. Continue to chew slowly while enjoying the flavor of each bite.

9. Continue chewing until the object is completely melted or chewed. 

10. Swallow. Close your eyes and take a few moments to enjoy the food you just ate. 

This is an exaggerated version of mindful eating, and you may not choose to eat every bite of your meal this way, but it gives you an idea of what the practice entails. 

Give Mindful Eating a Try

Try to start engaging in mindful eating with one meal. Instead of eating at your desk or in your car, find a table or quiet spot to enjoy your meal. Give yourself enough time to sit down, smell the aromas, eat and chew slowly, taste the ingredients, and enjoy your meal. 

You can start with a small portion or small plate. Part of mindful eating is listening to your body and your hunger cues, so if you are hungry you can refill your plate. 

Chew slowly during the meal. Give yourself at least 20 chews before you swallow the food. Stop every few bites and place your fork or spoon down to give yourself time to listen to your body. 

There are many benefits to mindful eating and no downsides to this practice. It can help you slow down, improve mental health, and enable you to incorporate more mindfulness practice into your life. It may be a good option for a mental health resolution.

Melissa Morris

About the Author

Melissa Morris writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, LifeInsurancePost.com. She is a university professor of nutrition and a certified sports nutritionist.