The secret of Mindful Eating is just the simple task of bringing our attention to what is happening in the present. Usually we are on Auto Pilot and not paying attention to what we are doing, our bodies or sensations.
Basics of Mindful Eating:
Breathe and belly check for hunger and fullness before you eat
Take a deep breath and relax your body, check in with your belly, listen to what your body is telling you (use the Hunger Scale)
Assess your food
Notice the color of the food, the smell, the texture, etc.
Putting down your fork or spoon between bites, pausing and taking breath between bites, chewing your food completely.
Investigate your hunger throughout the meal, particularly halfway through
- Be aware of your distractions and keeping bringing your attention back to eating,
- STOP (stop when you are halfway through the meal, take a breath, observe signs of fullness and proceed)
Chew your food thoroughly
Pay attention to the sensations as you chew your food, notice variety of tastes registered inside your mouth and whether you enjoy what you are eating.
Savor your food
Take time to choose food that you really like and that would satisfy you right now
By using all of your senses, you will appreciate all of the characteristics of the food and you are more likely to savor the bites, eat slower, digest better and enjoy the meal more. If you catch yourself about to eat when you aren’t hungry: grab a glass of water, brush your teeth, leave the kitchen or find something else to do!
General Rule: Eat when you are hungry. Don’t eat when you are not hungry…
Hunger and Satisfaction Scale
Use The Hunger Scale to help you determine how hungry or full you are. Each time before you eat, ask yourself: “Am I hungry? What’s my hunger level now?” As you move from the left to the right, you go from extremely hungry (1) to extremely full (10).
- Are you starving? - I don’t care what or how much I eat!
- Very Hungry! - I feel unfocused and irritable, low energy
- Hungry - I feel a physical sense of hunger, stomach is growling
- Slightly Hungry – beginning to feel hungry
- Not Hungry, but not yet satisfied or full
- Satisfied / Full with the meal
- Starting to get a feeling of fullness
- A little too full, feeling uncomfortable
- Way too full! I couldn’t eat another bite
- Stuffed! I feel sick
The scale can help you become more aware about your body needs.
The best time to eat is when you have signs of physical hunger in form of pangs and stomach growling (3).
It’s ideal to stop eating when do you feel full (6). In other words, it is recommended to be between the#4 and #6 of the Hunger Scale.
Rev. 12/2020. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.