photo credit: basheertome

This is a guest post from Tess Marshall of The Bold Life.

We live in a culture obsessed with weight and food. Making New Year Resolutions to lose weight usually only deals with how much or what one consumes.  I believe the missing piece is failing to look at how we consume our food.

How many times a day do you eat on the run? I recently asked a client to become aware of how often and why he eats in his car. By observing his behavior he discovered he gulped fast food on his way home from work at least four times per week never enjoying any of it.

His goal was to make time to plan and prepare healthy meals. The next step I suggested was to learn how to eat mindfully.

Whether you want to lose weight or not I invite you to learn how to eat mindfully. Mindful eating involves becoming fully aware of the tastes, smells, thoughts and feelings you have as you consume a snack or meal. Mindful eating allows you to savor each bite.

Eating while multi-tasking leads to eating faster and eating more. It’s impossible to enjoy and derive pleasure from meals when they become another task to fit in our day. We have learned to eat in meetings, while watching TV, in our cars and beds, in front of our computers and while running errands.

When we are hungry our central nervous system and brain receive signals from our body. It’s our brain that sends out the message of being full. When our mind is multi-tasking while we’re eating the signals of fullness are missed by our brain. If our brain doesn’t receive or misses the messages of taste and satisfaction it will continue to send out hunger signals which lead to overeating.

Eating mindfully is being aware of the experience of eating. Mindful eaters are present in the moment. They experience chewing, tasting and swallowing.

Mindful eating is also becoming aware of when your mind wanders during a meal. You then return your awareness to the eating process and the experience of savoring and enjoying your food.

Exercise for Mindful Eating

1. Take one bite of a pear and close your eyes. Focus on the pear’s texture, taste and the sensation in your mouth.

2. Begin to chew slowly noticing what it feels like. When your mind wanders let go of the thought and pay attention to chewing. Notice how your mouth moves as you chew.

3. As you swallow the pear stay present and notice the transition from chewing to swallowing.

4. With awareness notice how the food moves from your tongue to your throat. Swallow.

5. Take a deep breath. Exhale.

Mindful eating will also slow down the process of eating. Pay attention to how many times you chew a mouthful of food before swallowing and focus on savoring each bite.

Eating Cookies Mindfully

When you are mindful, you notice how your stomach feels and when you’ve had enough. Eating one cookie mindfully is enjoying each bite. By slowing down the process and staying in the present moment eating an entire box of cookies becomes undesirable.

1. When you pick up the cookie become aware of its sweet smell.

2. As you take the first bite notice the sound of the cookie crunching. 

3. Taste and savor the warm chocolate chip melting on your tongue.

4. Chew slowly, notice the sound chewing creates. 

5. Become present as you swallow.

6. Pause before the next bite.

7. As you continue eating the cookie continue to savor the smell, the taste, and the sounds eating a cookie involves. 

Methods to Encourage Mindful Eating

  • Eat with chopsticks.
  • Chew your food 25 times per bite.
  • Eat sitting down preferably at a table. (Without a computer, television, or books)
  • Put just enough food on your plate. Don’t overload.
  • Make each meal last 20 minutes. If you are finished before the 20 minutes sit and have a conversation for the duration.
  • Identify trigger foods that set you up for mindless eating.
  • Go for the quality of food over quantity.
  • Appreciate your food and what brought it to your table.
  • Be grateful for the experience of eating a meal.

It’s Also Necessary To…

Eat what you crave. Except for medical reasons don’t allow yourself to be deprived of a particular food. Deprivation leads to binging and guilt. Don’t divide foods into good and bad.

Dump All Diets. Instead learn to taste and pause in between every bite. You will naturally eat less.

Stop At Full. Your body will tell you when it’s time to quit eating. Identify the signals your body sends you. Watch for signs that indicate “enough.” 

Recognize Pleasure and Satisfaction. Identify the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.  Eat what you want to eat in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Enjoying the experience of dining will allow you to feel satisfied. Being content while eating allows you to eat less.

Tune into Your Feelings. Prior to eating are you feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, stressed or angry? Learning to cope with your feelings is as important as your food choices.

Tune into Your Thoughts. What are you thinking? I shouldn’t eat this, I should eat that. I’m fat and she’s so thin. Become aware of positive and negative thoughts. Breathe through them. You don’t have to make them mean so much. Learn to let thoughts go.

Respect and Accept Your Body. Less than 5% of the population look like fashion models. Accept and appreciate your body, you will feel better about who you are.

Feel Energized With Exercise. Move your body while doing something fun. Walk with a friend. Play volleyball. Join a baseball team. Go rollerblading. Make exercise enjoyable and feel energized too.

Respect Your Health. If you want to live a long healthy life make consistent and wise decisions regarding your eating and exercising patterns. You don’t need to be perfect just continue moving forward.


  • A healthy relationship with food
  • Emotional satisfaction
  • Positive mental and physical health
  • Less stress and anxiety
  • Increased happiness
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Acceptance of your body and self
  • A sense of balance and well-being

Read more from Tess at her blog, The Bold Life or subscribe to her feed.

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Showing 25 comments
  • Vered - MomGrind

    Awesome advice. I couldn’t agree more. My kids sometimes ask to eat their afternoon snack in front of the TV. I don’t allow it, because I really want them to pay attention to what they’re eating and to stop once they’re full.

  • Carla

    I hate to say but my waste line is my #1 motivator and its worked for. Even health (despite I have multiple food intolerances) isn’t always enough. It does help to eat slowly and savor your food. I had to break the habit of eating at my desk (at work)

    Carlas last blog post..Tagged!

  • Davina

    This is excellent advice. Mindful eating as you’ve described is the best way to respect yourself by respecting the food you eat.

    Davinas last blog post..The Quote Effect: Naughty, Nice & Niche Bloggers

  • Marelisa

    I love this post Stacey, it’s excellent advice. I’m stumbling it.

  • heather

    I guess I practice mindful reading – the chocolate chip cookie exercise made my mouth water! Something worth a try.

  • Maya

    Hi Stacey,

    This is great advice. I think mindful eating is really THE way I have controlled my weight for years. I have never really deprived myself. Mindful eating really ends up resulting in portion control. Great post Stacey.

    I have a friend who enjoys looking at desserts – she focused on how pretty they look – somehow that fulfilled her a lot. I tried that and it does really work – not that I did no want to ea the desser, but eating the dessert became about the experience …

    Mayas last blog post..The Happiness Quilt: Part 2

  • Urban Panther

    The Urbane Lion and I have challenged each other to weight loss. We started today. (Yesterday we stuffed our faces for one last pig fest). We had 1 glass of wine each, which we made last an hour while we prepared supper. Then with our evening espresso we had 1 teeny tiny chocolate square each. I divided mine into 4 teensy weensy pieces and savoured each one!

    I think this could work!

    Urban Panthers last blog post..Making a bigger contribution

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Vered, Good for you! I didn’t give in to my kids watching TV and eating either.

    Carla, I used to eat in my car, once I broke that my car was always so much cleaner!

    Davina, And self respect is the fastest way to self love!

    Marelisa, thanks for stopping by and stumbling as well. Stacey and I appreciate it.

    Heather, Don’t you love it when that happens. Try imagining cutting into a lemon. It’s amazing…the power of our mind.

    Maya, I’m going to try that with dessert! I also find if I want chocolate I buy one very fine piece and savor it.

    Urban Panther, Your on the right track. One bite at a time…

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    Tess – Thank you for being my first guest blogger. Your advice is timely, easy to follow, and a great reminder to self nurture while eating.

    Vered – My kids asked me if they could have a TV picnic dinner tonight (yes, sometimes I’m guilty). But tonight, I said no and began talking to them about mindful eating.

    Carla – My #1 motivator is not to feel bloated. If I make bad eating choices, my belly expands beyond measure.

    Davina – You made a great connection between eating healthy and respecting yourself. Thanks for helping us make that critical link.

    Marelisa – Thanks for stumble, although Tess deserves all the credit.

    Heather – Hmmm…mindful reading, I love the sound of that!

    Maya – Thanks for confirming that this process really works!

    Urban Panther – I pigged out for 2 weeks over the holidays (and felt horrible). I hope you are enjoying your healthy eating. I’m one week into healthy eating and it feels great!

  • Barbara Swafford

    Hi Tess and Stacey – This is a fabulous guest post. Mindful eating is something I need to work on. Too often I eat on the run or in front of my computer. I have found when I sit down at the table without any distractions I enjoy my food more, it tastes much better and I eat less.

    Thanks for the great reminder, Tess.

    P.S. Stacey, your site looks awesome with the new theme. Great job!

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..NBOTW – Dancing To The Moon

  • Jewel/Pink Ink

    This post makes me think of Ratattouille, the movie, where the rat savors his food :-). Great guest post, Tess and Stacey. Very timely this time of year when my body says pack away the calories to combat the cold…

    Jewel/Pink Inks last blog post..Third Draft Done

  • Lance

    Hi Stacey and Tess –

    This is really great advice! The part that stands out for me, is the idea of really taking the time to “experience” the food we eat. And not only can this make it more enjoyable, I think it lends itself well to eating quality over quantity. While I had been doing pretty good, the whole holiday season really led to a loss of focus on all of this – so this is a perfect message for me to hear as we start the new year! Thank you, ladies, for sharing this!

    Lances last blog post..And The Word Is…

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    Barbara – I am also guilty of eating at my computer. Also, even though there is still work to be done on my new theme, I decided not to focus on having it be perfect and instead explore my new theme in a journey of discovery.

    Jewel – My body has also been telling me to “pack away the calories” for the last 2 months. I have finally said enough is enough…and it feels great!

    Lance – I agree. Food is a gift, not a luxury…I think it’s important we do not take food for granted.

  • Stacey Shipman

    This is great advice and hopefully advice people will heed. I agree with Tess – we need to pay attention more to how we eat. Eating is sensual experience – all 5 of our senses can be engaged, but all too often we don’t engage even one! Slowing down and really tuning in, as Tess suggests is a great way to begin mindful eating.

  • rummuser

    You make it sound so simple. Being mindful about being mindful is the most difficult thing for me!

    rummusers last blog post..Page Rank 3

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Thanks for your compliment. I think in our day and age it’s easy to forget what a dining room table is used for!

    I loved Ratattouille! The lessons from a rat:)

    Yes I love quality over quantity. We never went to food buffets with our children because it seemed no one was sitting down at the same time. They would also put too much on their plates, not finish it and go get more.

    Yes all 5 senses. Impossible to do on the run!

    It is simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy! Thanks for commenting.

    Thanks so much for allowing me to post on your blog. It was a pleasure
    and I enjoyed the responses. Life is grand, eh?

    Tess The Bold Lifes last blog post..26 Ways to Love Life

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    Stacey Shipman – I agree. There are so many marketing schemes that help you “eat on the go”. It is time to go full circle and slow down during the eating process.

    – I hear you! Being mindful of being mindful is not an easy task.

    Tess – Thank you again for bringing such a great post and grand conversation to the experience.

  • Meg

    What a great post. It made me realise how many lunch times I sit at my computer eating and then suddenly wonder where my lunch has gone!

    That really has to stop!!

    Megs last blog post..Sugar Free Challenge: Day 7

    • Stacey / Create a Balance

      Meg – I am also working on not eating at my computer. It’s a challenging habit to break.

  • J.D. Meier

    I love to savor the moment.

    Life tastes better slowly.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Influencing Without Authority

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    J.D. – “Life tastes better slowly” – You should submit that quote to The Quote Effect!

  • Nathalie Lussier

    This advice is very timely. I recently went on a cookie eating fad, because I hadn’t eaten store bought cookies for about 3 years now. I missed being able to make my own fresh ones, but being in China I panicked. Now I’m back in control, and mindfulness is on my side. 🙂

    Nathalie Lussiers last blog post..What If Success Meant Survival?

    • Stacey / Create a Balance

      Nathalie – Thanks for the comment. I was eating cookies and not even tasting them during the holiday break. Now I am slowing enjoying healthy pears. The pears win hands down!

  • Mike King

    I didn’t actually read through the article yet but I had to comment my first reaction. If you didn’t spend 5 minutes reading the article you could eat 2 cookies and have time to go exercise and work it off. Then you stay healthy and enjoy 2 cookies!!!! haha!

    Mike Kings last blog post..Leadership: Understanding What It Is

  • Vintage Mommy

    As we are about to fill the house with Girl Scout cookies, this is a timely article! I don’t know anyone who hasn’t eaten a sleeve of those chocolate mint cookies – wow, they are truly addictive! – it’s scary.

    Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..I Want to Say “I Told You So”