Susan Albers Psy.D.

Comfort Cravings

5 Steps to Mindful Eating: A How To Guide

Mindful eating can help people stop dieting and start eating healthier.

Posted Sep 17, 2018

Source: istock

Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes.  Most of us want to eat healthier and have a better relationship with food.  But it just isn't easy!  As a psychologist, I focus on teaching people how to pay as close attention to what they are eating as to how they are eating.  Often, it is the habits that we have around foods that keep us stuck.  

A 2018 study published in the journal of Psychology, Health & Medicine examined the impact of teaching people mindful eating skills.*  A pre and post test analysis showed that after learning mindful eating skills, participants ate with significantly greater awareness, less distraction, greater cognitive restraint, and engaged less in overeating and emotional eating at the end of the program. 

I teach my client these 5 easy S's of Mindful Eating to help them get started on being more mindful at the dinner table. 

1) SIT DOWN. Have a seat! Avoid nibbling in front of the refrigerator or snacking in your car. Put food on a plate. You will enjoy food more and eat the right amount for you when you give eating your full attention.  Motto: “Only eat off your feet.”

2) SLOWLY CHEW.  Eat with your non-dominant hand (if you are right-handed, eat with your left). Research indicates that eating with your opposite hand can reduce how much you eat by 30% because you are naturally slowing down and being more attentive. Intentionally chew slower than the person you are eating with.  Motto: “Pace, don’t race.”

3) SAVOR. Take a mindful bite. Smell. Taste. Notice and look at each spoonful. Turn off the TV and other distractions. Motto: “When you eat, just eat.”

4) SIMPLIFY.  Create a mindful environment. Place healthy foods in a convenient place like on the counter or in a fruit bowl.  Put treats out of view to cut down on mindlessly picking at them.  If you really want them, you will get them out.  Research indicates that people tend to eat what is in their immediate reach. Motto: “In sight, in mind, out of sight, out of mind.”

5) SMILE. Smiling can create a brief pause between your current bite and the next one. During that gap, ask yourself if you are just satisfied, not full. Mott: “Take a breath, to manage stress.” 

To learn more about mindful eating, see my website


*Psychol Health Med. 2018 Aug 31:1-10. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2018.1516295.