Mindful Eating

Content by: Jamie Rinaldi, RD, MS in Applied Physiology & Nutrition

How can mindful eating help prevent individuals from overeating? Read the article to find out more and utilize the mindful eating journal to create a sense of awareness.

Mindful Eating

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Mindful eating is being aware of what you’re eating, why you’re eating, when you’re eating and where you’re eating. Paying full attention to your meal or snack and savoring every bite is a great way to avoid overeating or eating for reasons other than physical hunger.

We want our clients to engage all the senses to truly appreciate their food. Here are some questions to ask them when they sit down for a meal or snack:
👀 SIGHT: What does the food look like?
👃🏽 SMELL: How would you describe the smell?
👅 TASTE: What does the food taste like?
✋🏽 TOUCH: How would you describe the texture (while it’s in your mouth)?
👂🏽 SOUND: This applies when eating certain foods, like Rice Krispies or chips, but while you won’t always listen to the sounds, you should “listen” to your body. Are you still hungry? Satisfied? Uncomfortably full?

The opposite of Mindful eating? Mindless eating!

Mindless eating is plowing through a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream while watching television, often resulting in guilt and regret for not even enjoying the food because you were distracted. The same goes for texting or talking on the phone or working through a meal. These are common habits of our clients struggling with their weight.

Keeping a thorough physical food diary is an effective tool for mindful eating. It creates awareness, helping clients identify their reasons for eating, what times of day they are typically hungry, and triggers for different food choices, for example.

Documenting everything consumed forces clients to be fully conscious of their diet. Quite often they may make healthier choices or decide not to eat certain foods because it’s embarrassing to log them. People who keep a food journal tend to eat less, make better food choices, and are more likely to manage their weight and health.

Suggestions for what clients should log:
● Everything they eat and the quantities.
● Where they eat (e.g. in the car, at the kitchen table, in a restaurant).
● Who they eat with…
● What else they are doing while eating (e.g. working, checking email, chatting).
● What time they eat.
● How they feel before, during, and after eating (e.g. bored, starving, bloated, stressed, stuffed, itchy).

The more information they put in, the more they will get out of it. The health professional can help clients identify what affects their food choices and how different foods make them feel by reviewing their food logs. This equips the coach to guide them to make beneficial changes in their eating habits and help prevent undesirable consequences like reflux or guilt. It also shows both the coach and the client where the diet may be lacking.

Practicing mindful eating through food tracking not only makes people aware of their eating habits, but also helps them appreciate their food. It may sound tedious to some, but it will help your clients reach their nutritional goals and enjoy the experience of eating.

Next Steps:

1️⃣ Click the (arrow or PDF) button to find a mindful eating journal
2️⃣ Walk through each section with your client to set the expectations for journaling
3️⃣ Ask your client to track for 3 consecutive days, and tweak any section of the journal to match the individual's needs