Mindful Eating

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The benefits of SLOW and MINDFUL EATING include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss or maintenance, and greater satisfaction with our meals. Meanwhile, eating quickly leads to poor digestion, increased weight gain, and lower satisfaction. The message is clear: Slow down your eating and enjoy improved health and well-being!


One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognize that you’re full.

It takes about twenty minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Most people’s meals don’t even last that long!

Imagine the extra calories you could ingest simply because you didn’t allow your body time to register that it no longer required food. Now imagine the effect of those extra calories on your weight.

Eating slowly also helps us feel more satisfied — which is different than just being “full”.

When you slow down, savor a meal, pay attention to tastes and textures, and appreciate each mindful bite, you leave the table feeling good in your soul… even if all you ate was a baloney sandwich

Mindful/intuitive eating

Have you ever observed an infant eating? They eat when they are hungry, and they stop when they’ve had enough. If they don’t like something, they spit it out.

Mindful/intuitive eating is kind of like that.

When we eat this way, it promotes physical and psychological well-being. Physically, it’s gratifying to not feel overly stuffed or empty. Psychologically, it’s gratifying to be able to honor the internal cues of hunger and satiety, much like it’s psychologically gratifying to drink water when thirsty, get warm when cold, urinate when the bladder is full, or breathe after diving 8 feet to the bottom of a pool.

Years of mindless eating, restrictive dieting, and the “good” versus “bad” food mentality can warp the way we respond to internal body signals.

When the idea of “bad” food is discarded, it often removes the punishing cycle of restricting and gorging. Why? Because when we acknowledge that a food is available to us whenever we want, we can begin to select a variety of foods we enjoy and become the expert of our own body.

Mindful/intuitive eating asks “Why am I eating?” and “Am I truly hungry?” Thus it can reduce binging and emotional eating episodes. The more mindfulness and meditation someone uses, the more weight they can lose (and keep off).

Mindful/intuitive eaters aren’t obsessed eaters. Rather, they simply appreciate the value of food as opposed to hurrying through a meal. As they stop judging themselves, they are more present and aware of what they are doing.

Three key components of mindful/intuitive eating are:

  • Unconditional permission to eat
  • Eating primarily for physical rather than emotional or environmental reasons
  • Relying on internal hunger and satiety cues 

Eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied is something that nearly all mammals are programmed to do from birth. Yet, in the western world, we tend to “unlearn” this and only stop eating when we are “full.” Many cultures discourage this.

Throughout India, Ayurvedic tradition advises eating until 75% full.

The Japanese practice hara hachi bu, eating until 80% full.

Islamic guidance from the Qur’an indicates that excess eating is a sin.

The Chinese specify eating until 70% full.

And countries like France emphasise that eating should be pleasurable and done in the company of others.

The neuroendocrine system & appetite

Appetite is governed by two organ systems of the body, the endocrine system and the nervous system — their connection is sometimes known as the “neuroendocrine system”.

The GI tract is the largest endocrine organ in the body. Yep, your gut is the biggest hormone player on the block. It produces and processes all kinds of hormones ranging from neurotransmitters to anabolic storage hormones to sex hormones.

The organs of the endocrine system are sensitive to changes in the body, and, in response to these changes, send out messengers (called hormones) to tell the body how to respond. These energy regulating hormones are classified into either short term or long term.

The vagus nerve is the key connection between the gut and the brain and helps us understand why the holistic practices of yoga can contribute to overall health and well-being!

The nervous system acts via nerve impulses and neurotransmitters (hormone-like chemicals), directing nervous tissues, smooth muscles, and other organs of the body to move, mix, and propel foodstuffs that enter the digestive system.

While some appetite control originates from nervous and hormonal connections between the digestive system and the brain, the digestive system possesses its own, localized nervous system, referred to as the enteric nervous system.

It’s the “mini-brain” located in your gut. In this mini-nervous system, neurotransmitters are released, which can relay, amplify and modulate different signals between cells of the body.

Homeostasis: The body’s secret weapon

The body likes things to stay the same, aka homeostasis. When homeostasis is interrupted, the body tries to self-regulate and get back on track.

With body weight, there are internal challenges in maintaining homeostasis. As nutrients are used, they must be replaced. Our bodies say “Please replenish these nutrients”, aka “Eat.” Our bodies say “Thank you, that’s enough for what I require”, aka “Stop eating.”

When we honour homeostatic hunger signals, we achieve optimal health.

  • If we eat when we are not hungry, the distraction and pleasure are only temporary; consequently, we have to eat more to feel better, feeding the cycle.
  • If we do not eat when we are hungry, our body gets us back eventually by cranking up our appetite signals and smothering our fullness signals. The biggest trigger of binge eating? Dieting.

Please have a look at my habits based BALANCE + RESTORE program. As a Precision Nutrition certified coach, Eating Slowly and Eating to 80% full, are some of the first things we practice!  These foundational habits come before everything else and underpin the whole program!  The great thing is they can be practised at every meal, and also when we eat out, regardless of the food options we have in front of us!

Katie ~ Yoga Coach 🧘🏼‍♀️😊

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