Mindful eating: A way to mindful living one bite at a time

Mindfulness principles can be also applied to eating, as well as to every other part of your life.

People often eat without even tasting the food. They eat on their feet or distracted by the TV or newspapers. They are not aware when they are really hungry or what their bodies need and want to eat.

For a mindful eating, all it takes is a bit of awareness.

Mindful eating means to pay attention to your body and the food you are eating, before, during, and after your meal.

“Mindful eating is a way to become reacquainted with the guidance of our internal nutritionist.”
~ Jan Chozen Bays

Mindful eating vs. post-eating mindfulness

As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for more than a decade, mindful eating at times still requires some effort for me.

Mindful eating means to pay attention to your body and the food you are eating, before, during, and after your meal.


Sometimes it comes naturally and with every meal I practice mindful eating. I observe my feelings, sensations, and thoughts. I detach from my mind and tune into my body and its needs. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.

Sounds simple, and it is. Except when it’s not.

Sometimes instead of mindful eating, I practice post-eating mindfulness.

I’m not always entirely successful at mindful eating. At times, I become aware of my cravings and the fact that I’m not really hungry but I still go with it and just let myself eat whatever my mind think that it needs at that point.

After the meal, I am fully aware of the feelings of uncomfort and unease in my body but I just observe them. There is no judgment, there are no accusations and no self-criticism. There is just observation, acceptance, and detachment.

In the past, I would be so harsh on myself, words that I was using were so painful, hurtful, and hateful. That was the part that was causing the most damage. That was the part that was tearing me apart. My own voice in my head.

I’m not encouraging any eating disorder or justifying it with mindfulness. I’m just acknowledging the fact that the most painful part is not the actual eating. It’s the self-hatred and self-loathing that comes after.

For years and years, I was depriving myself of all kinds of food. Through a decade of deprivation and diets, there was always some food group that I was avoiding. I didn’t let myself eat carbs. Then fat. Then some of the protein. Sugar. Fruit. Starch. At one point I lived entirely on shake powders for weeks.

Mindful eating changed my life

Mindfulness freed me from all of that.

After I started practicing mindfulness, for the first time in years I was allowing myself to eat any food I want at any time I want it. With time, I learned to listen to my body, its signals, and needs.

That was a huge success for me and a big game changer. I’ve gained some weight but I’ve also gained my sanity back. I started to accept myself and my body. And most importantly, I started to truly love myself.

Mindful eating literally changed my life and my mental and physical health.

Of course, mindful eating should be practiced with post-eating mindfulness, and vice versa. Actually, it’s one and the same. When you’re practicing mindfulness you are trying to be present always, in every moment and in every activity.

However, we are not always consistent in that. Sometimes it requires a little bit of effort to come back into the here and now. And if that awareness kicks in after a meal, nothing is lost. There is no need to be hard on yourself. Just gently, kindly, and lovingly detach from that inner narrator and be present.

And remind yourself that every new meal is the opportunity to practice mindful eating again.

Here are some basic principles that can help you with that.

Pay attention to your body

When you feel hunger pay attention to your body. Observe how it feels. Observe where you feel hunger.

Is your body really hungry or is it your mind the one that is craving food? On a scale from 1 to 10, how hungry are you? We are often actually thirsty when we think that we are hungry. Did you drink enough water today?

If you indeed feel physical hunger observe what your body craves. Which food do you need? It may take a little bit of practice to be able to distinguish the difference between your body’s actual needs and your mind cravings.

If you pay attention, your body will let you know what food you need, what is maybe missing in your organism and what food you need to eat more or less.

Usually, your body will naturally crave for real, whole, healthy food, natural food that will provide nutrients, vitamins, minerals and everything else that your body needs.

Pay attention to your food

After you identify what food you want to eat and when you sit down to eat it, try to do it in a peaceful place. When you are eating mindfully, that means you are paying attention to the food.

Start by observing the food in front of you. Notice the colors, smells, texture. Then take a bite and really taste it in your mouth. Notice how it feels, how it tastes. Pay attention to your body, to your stomach. Is it full? Have you had enough to eat? Do you need more?

When you are finished, sit for a moment or two and let yourself enjoy the fullness. Let the food settle for a while, give your body a little time to digest it.

Pay attention to your thoughts

Also, observe your thoughts about the food. If you keep counting your calories or combining your food, if you keep telling yourself that you eat too much or that you need to lose weight, be gentle with those thoughts and emotions that follow them.

Try to be kind and loving with yourself and not judge anything that shows up. Allow your thoughts to pass through you and let them go. Always gently return to the now moment.

Just do your best to incorporate mindful eating into your every meal. Remember to slow down, pay attention to your body and its signals and needs, do one thing at the time and enjoy your every meal with all your senses.

Until next time,