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Mindful Eating II: Eating Slower to Eat Less
by ADMIN on MARCH 1, 2012

(This article is a follow-up to Mindful Eating: What is it)


Deliberately paying attention to the experience of eating is a lost art.  In our society, we rarely “simply eat” anymore.  Most of the time we eat while reading, eat while watching TV, eat while responding to emails, or even eat while driving.

And yet when we eat while doing something else – or mindlessly eat – we are less likely to stop when we’re full.  We over eat because our brain is concentrating on something other than food, so we don’t get the message that we’re full or satisfied.

Even when we try to concentrate on “simply eating”, it can be hard to stop when we’re full.

Since food is such a social ritual, we’ve actually conditioned ourselves to overeat. Sometimes this is because the food is just so good that we want to finish it all, even if our stomach is telling us to stop.  Or perhaps the person we’re eating with is eating a lot — maybe because they need it, or maybe because they are also overeating — and seeing them eat more makes it more acceptable for us to over eat as well.  So we do.

Over eating is now the norm.  And yet it can lead to a lot of health issues, the most visible of which is weight gain.

How to Eat Mindfully

To begin eating mindfully, one must first get used to eating without any distractions.  This way you can start to pay attention to the food, and even more importantly, pay attention to how your body reacts to the meal.

Choose a Room!


Decide where you’re going to eat and then sit down.  Whether you use the dining room table, kitchen table, your desk, or the couch – the primary goal is to eat without distractions.

No Distractions


Once you choose the room, make the commitment to put away or turn off other activities.  When you do something else while eating, your attention is not on enjoying your food.  You are not aware of how hungry you are, how the food tastes, portion sizes, and if your food choice is healthy.  Put away the TV, computer, book, magazine, news paper, iPad, iPhone, regular phone, or anything that may take you away from food!

Slow Down

Eating slower will give you time to listen to your body.  Are you satisfied?  Are you full?  Are you still hungry?  Are you enjoying the flavors, aromas, and textures of the food?

Here are some tips to help you eat slower:

  • Use smaller utensils

  • Chew each bite twice as long before swallowing

  • Sip water between bites

  • Set your utensils down between bites

  • Use chopsticks!

  • Have people at the table also eat slower.  When you watch someone eating slowly, you’re more likely to do so yourself.


It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.  So if you chow your meal in 8 minutes flat, there’s a good chance you’ll want more — even if you’ve already eaten enough!


If you want seconds, go back for veggies first.  Then wait until 20 minutes has passed (timing from the start of your meal), before going back for more carbohydrates or protein.  After those 2o minutes, reflect:  Am I really hungry?  Do I physically need more food?  Then make your decision.

If you rarely eat without distraction, make small changes at first.  Maybe aim for one night where you eat at the table.  Use that night to chat with loved ones and start to practice mindful eating.

Then up the ante.  Make a goal to eat twice a week at the table without distraction.  Then three times.  Once you’re able to listen to your body at home and stop when you’re full, you’ll be more likely to be able to eat mindfully when eating out.

You can be that person who stops without finishing everything on their plate.  In fact, it’s OKAY to not be part of the Clean Plate Club!  If there’s too much on your plate, give yourself permission to stop eating when you’re satisfied.

You’re body and emotions will thank you.  Because really, who needs that guilt we feel after eating too much?  Not you.   You’re body deserves respect – and you deserve to feel your best!

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To eat is a necessity: but to eat intelligently is an art.
— La Rouchefoucald

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