Are You Eating Mindfully?

By Lisa Podlecki

Registered Dietitian

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is the experience of eating with all of the senses (feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling) without judgment and noticing the responses that you feel before, during, and after eating[1]. This may help connect you to your eating experience and be more conscious of the food you are eating.


Slowing down and recognizing components of food and hunger can develop more awareness of fullness cues to enjoy the experience of eating food. For example, sitting in front of the TV with a bag of chips can result in not noticing how much was eaten or not enjoying the chips as much. This can lead to unsatisfied and continued cravings.

Eating mindfully isn’t hard to do but it can take some practice to get used to. Here are tips for enjoying your meals more.

Before eating:

Reflect and ask yourself “Why am I about to eat?”. Take a moment to notice what you are feeling and what you might want to fill you up. Are you stressed, bored, angry, or sad? Are you lonely? Or, are you actually physically hungry? Be mindful of your reactivity and make a choice instead. On a scale from 1-10, decide how hungry you are; 1 being ravenous and 10 being very full. You want to start eating when you are starting to feel hungry and finish eating once you start to feel comfortably full. It does not have to be perfectly like this all of the time but this can serve as a helpful guide[2].

If you’re not hungry, instead of reaching for food, take a nice walk around your neighbourhood, call a friend, meditate or listen to music. Eat regularly. Check in every 3-4 hours to see if you are hungry especially if you are busy during the day.

While you are eating:

Enjoy eating at the table by yourself, with other family members or Skype a friend! Eating together with someone else can help improve your mood and manage stress[3]. Observe the signs that show that you are comfortably full which includes feeling satisfied and not stuffed. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes and what your current hunger level is. Do not feel like have to finish everything on your plate. Enjoy the leftovers another time!

Between meals:

Honour your hunger and fullness cues. If you are hungry but it is not a scheduled meal or snack time, take a quick break and enjoy a well-rounded snack. There are no food rules. Try taking snacks and meal breaks away from the television or computer.

Stress and Overeating

Dealing with stress can lead to different food choices and overeating. Overeating because food tastes good or helps us deal with emotions is okay sometimes and is part of normal eating. If this happens, be kind to yourself. Do not let it be an indicator of self-worth. Instead, see it an opportunity of self-reflection to determine the reason why that happened. If it is stress-related, try coming up with tools to deal with emotions in the future. Also, note that inadequate sleep can lead to more cravings. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help you feel rested in the day.

Having the support of a Registered Dietitian or Behavioural Health Consultant may also be beneficial if you find yourself continually reaching for food to feel better and unable to handle different emotions. Contact your family doctor for a referral.



[1] Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition. (2018, Feb 08). Counselling strategies – mindful eating.

[2] Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works. St. Martin’s

[3] Griffin. Dietitians of Canada. (2010). 10 Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers. Practice-based Evidence in