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Mindful Eating 101

What is mindful eating? Why is it important? How do you do it? These are three questions I hope to answer for you this month, along with encouraging you to give it a try! If you have been keeping up with all the Food Guide craze over the last couple months, you will know that the new guide encourages us to not only focus on what we eat, but to think about how we eat too.  This includes things like cooking more often, eating meals with others, enjoying what we eat, and being mindful of our eating habits…which I’m going to focus on this month.

Mindful eating

Mindful eating uses the Buddhist concept of mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating. It involves things like:

  • Appreciating your food.
  • Eating slowly and without distraction.
  • Eating to maintain your health and well-being.
  • Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
  • Noticing the effects food has on your feelings.
  • Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full.
  • Distinguishing between actual hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
  • Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.


Why is mindful eating important?

When we’re more mindful about the what, why, when, where and how of our eating habits, we’re more likely to make healthier choices more often. Ever find yourself elbow deep in a bag of half empty chips, or look down and realize that you have ONE mini egg left in the (big) bag of Cadbury eggs?? (*slowly raises her hand*). Which brings me to ask – any emotional eaters out there?? (*slowly raises her hand, again*). I’m with you, I understand. That’s where mindful eating has helped me personally over the years make positive changes to some of those unhealthy eating habits, like emotional eating, binge eating or even just feeling guilty and anxious about food. Being mindful can help you reconnect to your experience with food by bringing awareness to your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

Tips on how to be mindful of your eating habits

There are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits on their own:

  1. Eliminate all distractions. Turn off the TV and put down your phone.
  2. Eat slowly and don’t rush your meals.
  3. Chew your food, thoroughly.
  4. Focus on how the food makes you feel.
  5. Stop when you’re full.
  6. Ask yourself these questions: HOW – did you eat slowly? Were you distracted? Did you eat with others? WHY – Were you hungry? Emotional? Tired? Bored? Was it offered to you? WHAT – What food and drink did you have?  WHEN – what time was it? How long was it since the last time you ate? WHERE – were you in a space meant for eating? HOW MUCH food?

Being able to remember and describe answers to these questions means you were likely being mindful of your eating habits.

Pick one meal per day to focus on these points to start. Once you’ve got the hang of it, being mindful when you eat will become more natural.

Jenn Giurgevich is a Registered Dietitian and former contract Professor at Brescia University College with a wealth of nutrition knowledge. Over the last 10+ years, Jenn has paired her love for nutrition and health with her undeniable love for fitness, working as both a personal trainer and fitness instructor.


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