If asked, most people would report that they eat for reasons other than health community, and experience. They would likely be eating while distracted, overeating,
not really tasting their food, and oblivious to where the food originated from or went through on its way to their plates or to-go containers. Mindful eating is the act and art of really paying attention to all aspects of food consumption. From the origins and history of food to the messages our bodies give when it comes to eating. Being mindful can be a powerful tool for maintaining a healthy weight.

There are various forms of mindful eating. From highly formalized mindful eating experiences to just paying attention to your body and your mealtime – and everything in between. Whether you participate in a guided mindfulness course or simply begin to think about what you eat and when you eat it, there are some general ways to practice mindful eating.

Let’s look at some ways that we are mindless and mindful with our eating:

  • Mindless Eating
    •  Oblivious to where our food comes from
    • Unaware of appropriate portions
    • Eating past being full
    • Emotion-driven eating
    • Eating in our car
    • Eating convenience foods
  • Mindful Eating
    • Preparing home-cooked foods
    • Raising a garden or shopping farmers markets
    • Thinking about food origins
    • Eating whole foods
    • Eating when your body indicates it’s hungry
    • Stopping when full

Mindless Eating- Mindless eating is easy to fall into because we live in a country of convenience and don’t make food preparation or eating a priority in our day. Eating is a function that is driven by emotion or energy levels. On the whole – outside of Foodies and food-focused professionals – Americans are driven by convenience for eating. They are barraged by ads and marketing that lures them from fresh whole foods to convenient and popular fad foods. Many times, they feel they are eating well because of clever marketing, but generally they are overeating, undernourished, and overweight.

Mindful eating- Mindful eating begins with two independent things: humans who are hungry and food. Humans who are hungry are compelled to eat. Mindful eaters are
aware of their hunger; they are motivated to take specific and intentional action to obtain, prepare, and consume whole foods. The food aspect of mindful eating includes
the growth of foods with care and ethics, the cultivation of plants and animals in humane and ethical ways, and the preparation of food with consideration and love. Eating becomes an event and savoring the food is something that takes time and appreciation.

You don’t have to become an organic farmer to be mindful with your eating. Be present and aware of what you are buying and thinking about what it took for that plant to end up on your chopping block is a great first step. Making whole food meals, eating with your loved ones, and not rushing the process is another step. Engaging your family and friends during the meal and talking about the food is an ideal way to be more mindful. The more you pay attention to what you eat, how it makes you feel, and the experiences you have, the easier it is to manage your weight and be very intentional about what goes into your body.