What are the benefits of mindful eating?

05 Jun 2020

What is mindful eating?

Put really simply, mindfulness is about connecting our mind and body together in the present moment. It’s powerful because we spend a lot of time living in the past (mulling over things we’ve done well or bad) and in the future (worrying about what might or might not be); rather than actually diving head first into the life we’re actually living in the present moment.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is often considered the Father of Mindfulness, defines mindfulness as: “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Thinking about mindful eating this can include…

* Using all your senses to guide what to eat and provide feedback during and after eating, to help you find                      what’s satisfying and nourishing.

* Acknowledging the inner wisdom you have in relation to knowing what, when and how much to eat.

* Having a non-judgmental approach to your experiences with food

* Nurturing awareness of your physical hunger and fullness cues to know when to start and stop eating.

What can mindful eating give us?


Mindful eating can help to give us a deeper understanding of which foods and how much of them at any given time satisfy us. This is liable to change though so checking in during eating occasions is important.

It can also help us to get greater pleasure from food and (with some curiosity) give us the opportunity to explore food and find those you really like – meanwhile ditching those you really don’t! Oftentimes when we eat in this way we're satisfied earlier because we’re really paying attention and listening to how our body is
responding, giving our body cues time to keep up with our eating.

There's no evidence that mindful eating can help us to lose weight though (even though many people will tell you otherwise) and actually might hinder progress. This is because if weight loss is your driving force instead of tuning into hunger and fullness cues with weight loss diets we actually have to full-out ignore them, to consume less than our body wants or needs.

How can we eat more mindfully?

It’s important to recognise that you’re unlikely to be able to eat mindfully every time you eat, or even most times you eat. There’s no reward for eating every single bite as mindfully as possible and actually, that level of perfectionism begins to sound like you-know-what (a diet!). 

Mindfulness or conscious awareness can be practiced informally at any point in the process of eating. Therefore, mindful eating can mean...

* Watching a new food documentary for inspiration or finding a new recipe to try.

* Having a drink available during meals, so you take sips between bites.

* Taking time to just be in the moment when preparing food, e.g. cutting veg and focusing on the way the knife      feels in your hand and the texture as you slice into it. What smells are coming out of the veg etc?

* Appreciating the time you've made for food 

* Removing distractions when you eat, e.g. no phones or TV

* Taking a moment to really taste your mouthful (even if you only do this once during a whole meal!) 

Is mindful eating different to intuitive eating?

Yes…and no! Mindful eating is actually integrated within the process of intuitive eating as a way to connect with our bodies when we eat and help us to tap into our feelings of satisfaction and pleasure from food. Mindful eating doesn’t go much further than the eating practice whereas intuitive eating is a “broader philosophy” as co-creator Evelyn Tribole puts it; intuitive eating gets deeper into the relationship with food as a whole.

Neither approach to eating is a ‘diet’ though, they don’t prescribe any one particular way of eating at all. Both promote an approach to food, eating and our bodies without judgement, which is an important piece to remember. 


Sometimes it can be easier said than done to put techniques like mindful and intuitive eating into practice. If you feel like you could benefit from some further support to help improve your relationship with food get in touch today by filling out the contact form below or schedule in your free 15 minute discovery call today.

Further Reading

1. The Center for Mindful Eating

2. Intuitive Eating website

"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience" - Jon Kabat-Zinn