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Mindful eating refers to staying present while eating, as well as paying attention to your body and letting it guide you on when, how, and what to eat. Ideally, you learn to eat free from distractions and without rigid dieting rules. Mindful eating is a great way for people to build healthier relationships with food and their bodies.

What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is a practice rooted in mindfulness. When you mindfully eat, you intentionally pay attention while eating your food.

Possible benefits of mindful eating include:

Decreased Binge Eating Symptoms
Eating mindfully can reduce eating disorder symptoms Urges to overeat or binge on food can be intense, and when people with these disorders begin eating, they often feel out of control.

Decreased Emotional Eating Symptoms
Emotional eating refers to eating based on emotional needs rather than physical ones. Almost everyone emotionally eats from time to time. But if it’s a frequent habit, it can lead to an eating disorder or exacerbate other mental health symptoms, like depression or anxiety. Mindful eating can help reduce emotional eating, because it asks you to check in with your body, pay attention to hunger, and eat based on these cues.

Less Anxiety
Many people experience anxiety around food. They worry about everything, from calories and ingredients to the impact foods will have on their physical appearance. This anxiety may be so entrenched that you don’t even notice it during mealtimes–maybe it just becomes your norm. Mindful eating helps people shift away from eating out of fear.

Improved Mind-Body Awareness
The mind and body are inherently connected, but many people aren’t in touch with what their body needs. Instead, they often ignore their body’s cues because they want to focus on rules or logic. Mindful eating incorporates paying attention to both your body (listening to hunger cues, feeling textures and sensations) and mind (honoring your thoughts without judgment).

7 Tips for Practicing Mindful Eating

Here are seven tips for practicing mindful eating:

  1. Learn Your Hunger Cues
    Being at a “one” refers to being starving and very weak; being at a 10 refers to being overly stuffed and nauseous.4 It’s a good idea to practice eating when you’re in the three or four zones (hungry to uncomfortably hungry). Throughout your meal, check in to see what number lands for you at different times
  2. Move Away All Distractions
    Mindful eating encompasses being present with your body, food, and eating. Simultaneously watching TV, looking at your phone, or working make this challenging. Even if it feels uncomfortable, start with being present with just one or two snacks or meals per day. Notice the difference between mindful eating and distracted eating. If things feel strange, simply notice this discomfort and acknowledge how it feels.
  3. Practice With One Food First
    The classic raisin test has been used by countless therapists and treatment facilities. Start by holding it, then focus on really looking at it (as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen one). Notice how it feels as the taste enters your mouth and as you swallow it.
  4. Tap Into Your Five Senses
    Just like you might do in the meditation, aim to embrace your five senses the next time you eat a snack or meal. Start by looking at your food. What colors and images do you notice? How does the food arrange or mix together? Then, take in any smells. What subtle hints or fragrances emerge? As you eat, pay attention to how the food feels in your mouth. Notice temperature and texture and bodily sensations as you swallow
  5. Chew as Slowly as Possible
    People often rush through eating and don’t notice when they’re getting full. Or, they eat so fast they don’t stop to really enjoy what they’re consuming. Embracing mindful eating starts by chewing slowly. T
  6. Notice Your Thoughts & Feelings
    Eating mindfully doesn’t mean eating without thoughts or feelings. At any given moment, you might experience thoughts like, This food is bad for me, or, This is too fattening. You may cycle through any feelings of sadness, fear, guilt, or boredom. These are all normal–instead of resisting them, simply make space for them. Allow them to arise without trying to judge or change them. If you feel like you’re getting lost, return to your five senses.
  7. Pay Attention to Fullness
    Just like it’s helpful to notice when your body is truly hungry, it’s equally important to recognize when you’re ful

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