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Mindful vs Mindless Eating

Have you ever sat down in front of the TV with a family size bag of chips that is full one minute, empty the next and wonder how they disappeared so fast? This is one example of mindless eating. 

The opposite of mindless eating is mindful eating. Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you put into your body. It involves paying attention to how food makes you feel and the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. Instead of eating without thinking, when we’re being mindful, we eat with attention and intention.

Fundamentally, mindful eating involves: 

  • Eating slowly and without distraction
  • Listening to physical hunger cues and eating until you’re satisfied
  • Distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
  • Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
  • Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
  • Eating foods that are both pleasing and nourishing
  • Appreciating your food 

On the other hand, mindless eating involves: 

  • Rushing through meals
  • Eating while distracted
  • Alternating between starving and uncomfortably full 
  • Labeling food as “good” or “bad” and restricting choices
  • Eating food just because it’s there

So what can you do to be a mindful eater? Here are some tips to practice:

  1. Eliminate distractions.  Turn off the TV/cellphone/computer while eating. 
  2. Chew thoroughly and eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness.
  3. Pay attention to your hunger & fullness cues. 
  4. Engage all senses. Notice the sounds, colors, smells, tastes, and textures of the food and how you feel when eating. Pause periodically to engage these senses.

Mindful eating doesn’t come naturally for most people, and that’s ok! Practice the tips above to get started and you’ll be surprised at how satisfied you’ll be after your meals.


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