The New Mindful Focus on Food

How do most of us eat? Mindlessly. We look at anything but our plate: TV, screen, phone, magazine, Kindle.

The new trend is the opposite of this: mindful eating, also called meditative eating. The basic premise is: pay attention to eating. While alternative health practitioners were the ones who started using meditative eating to remake and reboot your relationship with food, more recently studies have shown actual weight loss for those who’ve been taught mindfulness techniques.

Eating with 100 per cent attention helps people learn to read their bodies, says meditation teacher Emma Mills. ‘When eating, make sure you’re only doing eating. Then you’ll know when you’re full up or even if you actually like what you’re eating!’ The theory is, mindfulness strengthens self-control, as well as having positive mood benefits over time, so making you less likely to eat emotionally.

So how to do it? These are Emma Mills’ four ways to help you start eating meditatively.

  • Sit down and have your normal meal but paying attention to your senses. Not just taste, but the smells coming from the food, even the sound, for example the crunch of an apple, the gloop of a spoon.
  • If you’re eating with other people, watch how their eating speed affects yours. If someone becomes irate, you’ll find you both start eating quickly. But that works in reverse too: eat slowly, put your knife and fork down between bits, and you can inspire slowness in them, too.
  • Become a spy for a day. Spend it noticing when you feel hungry or want food and which foods you choose – but don’t judge yourself. Just say, that’s interesting, I wanted sweets at 4pm. The next day, catch it before it happens and choose differently by eating something else, or calling a friend or going for a walk.

Emma Mills is author of Relish: 7 Steps to Mindful Eating, £39.95 at

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