What it Means to Eat Mindfully

With all of the benefits mindful eating has to offer, learn how to start eating mindfully in three easy steps!

Mindful eating is a concept that was first introduced to me when I read Women, Food, and Desire by Alexandra Jamieson, a great book that shifted my way of thinking and I highly recommend it to anyone. I was in my young twenties and working as a nutrition writing intern for a weight loss website. I was so excited to write about mindful eating because it was so intriguing to me. At this point in my life, I was consumed by my weight, how my body looked, and dieting. This was the first time my way of thinking about eating and food started to shift towards something that felt simpler and more in tune with my body.

While eating mindfully may not be a mainstream idea, it is definitely beginning to gain some traction especially with those already introduced to the idea of mindfulness. Deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism, mindfulness was defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (6). Mindful eating is simple really, it is all about slowing down, removing distractions, and listening to your body. At its core, mindful eating is about awareness. Awareness of the current state of our bodies, the food we eat, the environment surrounding us, our thoughts, and the awareness of all these things without judgment.

Research has examined the health benefits of practicing mindfulness which includes improving the symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and insomnia (3, 5). Mindful eating has been shown to lead to greater mindfulness, cognitive restraint around eating, significant decreases in weight, eating disinhibition, decreased depression symptoms, perceived stress, reduced stress eating, binge eating and gas and bloating, and improved digestion and nutritional intake (1).

There are also several research studies that have shown mindful eating to be an effective tool for those suffering from eating disorders. Mindful eating reduced the frequency of binge eating, improved self-control with food, reduced disordered eating symptoms, and reduced symptoms of depression in those with binge eating disorder (2, 4).

Mindful eating focuses on your behaviors surrounding food. In my personal experience, mindful eating has allowed me to reconnect with my body and has reduced disordered eating behaviors along with gas and bloating, stress-eating, depression, and anxiety.

Well, now that you know mindful eating is extremely effective in improving your overall health and happiness, it is time to learn how to eat in a mindful way so you can reap all the benefits!


Three Easy Steps to Begin Eating Mindfully


1. Slow Down

Our current society is constantly moving at a quick pace and is all too often focused on “doing.” The momentum of this fast-paced lifestyle spills over into all areas of our lives and has caused us to become acclimated to rushing through just about everything.

Whether we’re rushing through lunch so we can get back to work or rushing to make dinner so we can get the kids to bed, we rush through moments that we could be enjoying. Life is just a series of moments that are strung together. When we rush through life mindlessly, we are missing out on moments that are important experiences for our human nature; and this includes preparing and eating food.

So slow down, chew your food intentionally, taste the different flavors present, and swallow when your food has been chewed thoroughly. Remember, chewing is the first step in the digestive process, and it is important to chew your food thoroughly and allow the digestive enzymes in your mouth, such as amylase and lipase, to begin breaking down your food for digestion. This important step will also allow you to experience the benefits of less gas and bloating by making it easier on your digestive system!

Now that you have slowed down, take it one step further by taking a pause in between bites. Yep, just pause periodically throughout your meal pause and take a deep breath. In step three, we will dive deeper into this very important pause!

One last thing on slowing down, did you notice that I also mentioned preparing food? That’s right, being mindful while preparing your food is another way to practice mindful eating and allows us to feel more connected to our food. I completely understand that you may not feel like you always have the time to slow down when it comes to getting dinner on the table, but take it from a former chef, when you can slow to down to be aware of the food you are cooking and take the time to use all your senses, there is a deeper connection and satisfaction from your food.

Mindful eating can also be expanded to being mindful of where your food comes from, how it’s grown or raised, and it’s impact on the environment!

2. Remove Distractions

The next big step in practicing mindful eating is to put away the distractions. This includes the tv, cell phone, books, emails, texts, talking on the phone, magazines, and anything that is distracting you from being present and aware of the food you are eating. Make eating an exclusive activity. When we eat with distractions, we are missing out on the full experience of eating.

Missing out on this experience is like cheating yourself of feeling satisfied. As I mentioned above, when we don’t feel completely satisfied with a meal we tend to overeat later on to make up for it.

Think about a recent distracted meal you’ve had, maybe you were answering work emails during lunch, or watching your favorite show with a snack, or maybe reading a book. Do you even remember what you ate? Or how it tasted? Did you overeat until you were uncomfortable? Did you feel satisfied?

Now, think of a special meal you’ve had, maybe a holiday dinner with family, or a meal at your favorite restaurant. Do you remember what you ate? How it tasted? Do you remember enjoying the meal? Did you feel satisfied?

Distracted eating doesn’t allow you to listen to your bodies hunger cues and fullness signals, which leads us to our third step.


3. Listen to Your Body

By practicing the first two steps of slowing down and removing distractions, listening to your body will become a whole lot easier. When we remove the outside noise and slow down we can hear more clearly the internal cues that our body sends to us.

If you can listen, your body tells you when it feels hungry and when it feels full. Remember that pause I mentioned earlier? This super important pause allows you to take a break from eating to listen to your body.

Just pause and take a breath, notice how your body feels. Ask yourself, how do I feel? Does my body need more food? Am I enjoying my meal? Does this taste good to me? Is this what my body needed? Cultivate your body awareness during this pause and it will become more clear to you what your body is trying to say.

Learning to listen to our body takes practice, but as you start to listen you will be surprised at how much information it shares with you. You will eventually learn what food is best for your body and what you truly need to feel nourished.



Once you have mastered the first 3 steps to eating mindfully you can take your mindful eating up a notch by setting intentions prior to eating, using meal mantras, and expressing gratitude for each meal. To expand your mindful eating practice, download my 4 Habits to Mindful Eating handout that includes a classic mindful eating exercise from Jon Kabat-Zinn!




  1. Carrière, K., Khoury, B., Günak, M. M., & Knäuper, B. (2017, August 31). Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.mcgill.ca/healthpsychologylab/files/healthpsychologylab/carri-re_et_al-2018-obesity_reviews.pdf.
  2. Hepworth, N. S. (2010). A mindful eating group as an adjunct to individual treatment for eating disorders: A pilot study. The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 19, 6-16.
  3. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1970, January 1). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future: Semantic scholar. undefined. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Mindfulness-Based-Interventions-in-Context%3A-Past%2C-Kabat-Zinn/eb73f85e2c3578ee8206787a6e7e96857fec9bc3?p2df.
  4. Kristeller, J. L., & Wolever, R. Q. (2010). Mindfulness-based eating awareness training for treating Binge Eating Disorder: The conceptual foundation. The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 19, 49-61.
  5. Ong, J. C., Manber, R., Segal, Z., Xia, Y., Shapiro, S., & Wyatt, J. K. (2014, September 1). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153063/.
  6. Kabat-Zinn J. Full Catastrophe Living. New York, N.Y, Dell Publishing, 199

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About Me

I’m Nicole! A Nutritionist with a BS in Nutrition & Dietetics, Certified Life Coach specializing in mindfulness and the law of attraction, and a Certified Meditation Coach.

I take a no-diet, holistic approach towards nutrition by fusing functional nutrition methods with intuitive and mindful eating practices and principles. I guide and teach my clients to love their body, make strategic and lasting behavioral changes, and reach their optimum health and their body’s natural weight WITHOUT diets. 

Want to know why I will never prescribe a diet to any of my clients? Read The Scary Truth About Dieting.

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