Mindful eating is about paying full attention to our food and the way it makes our body feel. This means focusing on the taste, smell, texture, temperature and colour of your food rather than finishing a meal or packet of chips without even tasting it. It’s also about listening and responding to our internal hunger and fullness signals.
Why do it?
We often don’t allow our senses to fully experience the food we eat because we are focusing on something else, like our phone or the TV. A lot of the eating we do is also non-hungry eating. We eat when we’re in a rush, bored, stressed, sad or just because there’s food in front of us.
There’s scientific research showing that eating in a mindless, inattentive way can mean eating more than our body needs to feel full. Practicing mindful eating can help us enjoy a more satisfying and healthy relationship with food, and can reduce overeating.
Here's how to get started:
- Remove distractions - that means turning off the television and putting away your phone.
- Take a moment to check in and see how hungry you feel using the scale below.
- Eat like you’re at a fancy restaurant. Take note of the way the food is presented, the enticing aromas, the texture and flavours.
- Notice how your hunger level changes as you eat.
- Practice makes perfect! Like any skill you’ll need to do it a few times before it starts to come naturally.
The hunger and fullness scale
Aim to stay in the green zone most of the time. This means starting to eat when you’re at a 3 or 4, and stopping eating when you get to a 6 or 7.
|Starving, feel weak / dizzy||Very hungry, irritable, all food looks good||Hungry, stomach starting to growl||Slightly hungry||Neutral, neither hungry nor full||Starting to get full||Full, feel satisfied||Very full, slightly uncomfortable||Stuffed and uncomfortable||So full you feel sick|
Mindful eating activity
- Choose one piece of food, for example a sultana or slice of fruit.
- Begin by looking at the food. Examine the shape, colour and texture.
- Bring the food to your nose and smell it.
- Place the food on your tongue, notice the response of your salivary glands.
- Take a bite and be aware of the texture on your tongue and the sounds in your mouth.
- Notice how the texture of the food changes as you slowly chew.
- Now swallow, paying attention to the feeling as the food travels down your throat.