What is mindful eating?

Notecard with the word mindfullness, resting on a window sill.

Mindful eating involves eating with non-judgemental enjoyment, while incorporating all of our senses. The practice stems from Zen Buddhism and involves being present in the moment.

It is a skill that you can apply at any meal, to help identify eating behaviours that no longer serve you. Such behaviours push you further away from tuning in to your body.

Mindful eating brings awareness to the present moment, and the activity at hand – eating!

Mindful eating - little chocolate dessert puddings with strawberries and flowers on top.
Source: Brooke Lark via Unsplash.com

That’s not to say that you can’t use food to manage emotions, it’s about evaluating your use of food to manage emotions.

Questions to ask yourself after eating could be:

  • How do I feel after eating?
  • Do I feel content?
  • Am I uncomfortably full?
  • Do I have guilt?
  • Do I feel energised?

If you are noticing uncomfortable symptoms after eating, mindful eating practices may assist with this.

Can mindful eating help with weight-loss?

It was never meant to be a gateway to weight loss.

This co-adoption is just another diet packaged up with a fancy new name (mindfulness). Unfortunately, mindful eating is not another diet, it focuses on how and what we eat. If someone is promising you weight loss, it is the incorrect use of it.

The purpose of mindful eating is not to lose weight… The intention is to help individuals savor the moment and the food and encourage their full presence for the eating experience.

Nelson, J. B. (2017)

When applied correctly, mindful eating can help to disentangle from unhelpful eating behaviours such as mindless eating, the exact opposite. Mindless eating often happens subconsciously when we eat while doing other activities.

How many of you can relate to this scenario? It’s been a stressful day, so you plonk yourself on the couch to watch a reality dating show with a packet of chocolate biscuits and start eating. Before you know it, the packet is empty, and you still don’t know the fate of 3 couples. And you’re not satisfied.

If a craving didn’t come from food, it’s unlikely to be fully quenched by food.

When you see a non-diet Dietitian such as myself, you will learn the skills to apply in your life.

For more information including, this article has a script for you to try at home.


Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum : a publication of the American Diabetes Association30(3), 171–174. doi:10.2337/ds17-0015


About The Author

Madeleine Baumgart

Accredited Nutritionist (AN)
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinician (CEDC)

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