Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | June 19, 2010

Mindful Eating & Physical Fullness

Learning to eat mindfully

  • Acknowledge the taste, the texture, the smell, the sounds – with every bite bring yourself present and learn to listen to each sense: make a mental note of each one
  • Pay close attention to your thoughts while eating: remember eating is to nourish the body, give it energy, taking care of all it provides you: are you thinking “shoulds” or negative self talk like “I am ugly, fat, etc.” When you recognize you are thinking these thoughts work to alter those thoughts and bring yourself to the moment – you are not your thoughts, your thoughts do not have to guide your behaviors. Acknowledge why you are eating, to take care of yourself.
  • Neutralize food: Do you label your foods “good” or “bad” – why? Where did you get these definitions of good or bad? How does it alter how you eat? All foods are ok in moderation, forbidding or restricting can lead to binges and cravings.
  • Slow down your eating process. Sit down for a period of time and slowly eat, chew completely, noting how your body feels and how the food tastes (remember to go back to using your senses)
  • Take moments during eating to acknowledge feelings in your mind and sensations of your body: are you tense? Are you thirsty? Are you feeling anxious? Acknowledge the difference between the mind and the body
  • Take a deep breathe through the nose and out the mouth after each bite. This will bring you mindful not only of your breathing, but can slow down the eating and bring you more mindful to be in the moment

Learning to know when your body is “physically” full

  • Fact: it takes 20 minutes to send your brain the signal you are no longer hungry. When eating a meal: try placing your fork down between bites. Then you are not mindless in eating bite after bite, you must consciously pick up the for to take another bite
  • Eat every 3-4 hours: even if only a snack, it will help your blood sugar remain more level you don’t have to eat everything on your plate: this is especially important when at restaurants, often the sheer amount of food can be overwhelming. Sometimes having a portion of it wrapped to go first can help take away the pressure to finish the food
  • Learn to use a number scale: check this scale
  • After a few bites, focus on how your stomach feels, really pay attention to your body
  • How does the “type” of food feel in your stomach. Understanding how a food can fill the volume of your stomach will take time, really paying attention to your stomach, whether the growling has lessened, the headache has lessened, acknowledge how your physical hunger changes during the eating process
  • The Japanese in their wisdom promote pleasure as one of their goals with healthy living: really pay attention to what you are eating, and your experience of eating; when you find yourself not tasting the food, feeling on auto-pilot, take a step back and breathe deep. Slipping into these “zones” can be easy to do, but the more you pay attention to the process of eating, the less you allow yourself to check out.
  • My mom takes care of my second cousin who is 4. She naturally possesses this ability. I think its amazing to remember infants and toddlers innately possess this ability and can easily know when they are hungry and full. My mom has now decided to rely on the inner wisdom of the 4 year old. We need to learn to do the same thing.
  • A study done by Leann Birch, Ph. D. showed that children ages two to five were eating, on average, the same amount of calories daily for a week, even though the calories from their individual meals varied greatly. This study shows that toddlers don’t need to count calories to get the appropriate amount of energy; they naturally know what they need – totally awesome research and something to remember as we re-learn to eat, listen to hunger cues, and how food feels within our body. .

Learning to eat mindfully can be fun, and learning to listen to our body can help us in recovery and life.

How have you learned to eat mindfully? What works? What struggles do you face? Do you know when you are full??


  1. I am working on this currently. It has been pretty amazing. I need to really work on mindful thirst. That is the one I REALLY have trouble with.

    • Such a great point! I too get so busy at work and often get to the extreme thirst before I drink water. I am trying to balance the coffee, soda and water in a healthy way, but often am mindless. Anything you have learned or do that helps? I think sometimes I need to approach my thirst the way I do my hunger, checkins throughout the day, to make it a priority and not something that is a “side” thought.

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