Mindfulness is a way of life rather than an isolated activity, and as such, it can be applied to virtually any aspect of our daily lives. And what is more daily than eating?
The beauty of mindful eating is that it’s not about eating healthily 100% of the time necessarily, just like mindful living isn’t about living healthily 100% of the time. It’s about sustaining your overall well-being in the long run and listening to your real needs rather than empty impulses.
Mindfulness sounds almost spiritual and somewhat elusive and abstract. So how does one go about eating mindfully? It’s actually simpler than you probably think.
Here are a couple of simple rules of thumb.
Eating in the Moment, Meaning Slowly
Eating slowly is the culinary version of living in the moment. As such, it has both physiological and psychological benefits. It’s important to note that “slowly” here is used somewhat loosely and basically refers to a normal tempo – neither speed eating nor turning meals into jaw workouts or exercises in monk-like patience.
One study compared the effects of normal and slow rates of eating. The slow group “reported greater fullness and more accurate portion size memory.”  However, they did also derive less enjoyment and satisfaction from the food compared to the normal-rate group.
This underlines the importance of balance – suppressing the primal instinct to devour food in seconds while also not overthinking it. And balance is often synonymous with mindfulness.
These findings are in line with other research. Several studies have established a positive relationship between more chews per bite and longer eating times on average on the one hand and less calorie intake and smaller portion sizes on the other.
To that end, you can pay closer attention to all the flavors coming together, the textures, the smell, and even the colors, giving your body a chance to realize it’s actually full since it usually takes the gut around 20 minutes to get the memo.
Eating Out of Hunger, Not Emotion
There’s nothing wrong with giving in to temptation every now and then. But constantly eating out of emotion, such as boredom, anxiety, etc., rather than real need is known as emotional eating and is a major cause of weight fluctuations. The COVID-related lockdowns served as a real-life scientific experiment that underlined these tendencies. 
So, in short, eating mindfully is listening to your gut and differentiating its voice from all the other tempting external cues and background noise.
1. Hawton et al., Nutrients. 2019 Jan; 11(1): 50, Published online 2018 Dec 27, Times Cited = 30; Impact Factor = 5.717
2. Pellegrini, Changes in Weight and Nutritional Habits in Adults with Obesity during the “Lockdown” Period Caused by the COVID-19 Virus Emergency, Nutrients, . 2020 Jul 7;12(7):2016; Times Cited = 394; Impact Factor = 5.717