The Mindful Eating Checklist [Free PDF]
Mindful eating can help you heal your relationship with food, improve your everyday life, achieve a healthy weight, and improve your health.
It’s funny how it is against popular beliefs to think that listening to our bodies can have such positive results! We are used to hearing how dieting is the way to achieve our weight and health goals.
However, mindful eating can be the solution you are looking for without the struggles.
In mindful eating, you don’t focus on weight loss or health. Instead, the focus is on being in the present moment every time you eat; you focus on seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting the food. The goal is to enjoy the experience.
In addition, mindful eaters focus on internal hunger and satiety cues and eat in response to physical hunger (1).
Because mindful eaters are aware of all cues affecting their eating behaviors and health, this technique can be a helpful strategy to influence the food they eat to optimize health and achieve a healthy weight.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
According to studies, mindful eating positively impacts diet quality, food choice, and weight management (2, 3). Moreover, this technique effectively treats disordered eating patterns such as bingeing, uncontrolled eating, and impulsivity (4, 5).
Mindful eating can also help with emotional eating (6).
Key Components of Mindful Eating
- Bring mindful attention and awareness to the eating experience.
- Make mindful food choices based on health and your food preferences.
- Be aware of your hunger and fullness cues.
- Cultivate awareness of your emotions and how you react to them.
- Cultivate compassion for yourself and others
Click here for a step-by-step mindful eating guide to read the blog post.
Now let’s skip to the practical part, a mindful eating checklist.
Mindful Eating Checklist
At the Beginning of the Week
Make Mindful Food Choices Based on Food Preferences and Health
While all foods fit into a well-balanced diet, keeping your health and your goals in mind is essential. In other words, be mindful about food selection.
Let me emphasize this: eating cookies, hamburgers, ice cream, and junk food is okay. In time, you will find a balance between eating the foods you like and healthy foods for you.
However, you want to be mindful about what you will be eating throughout the week.
The mindful eating checklist for the beginning of the week:
- Create a simple meal plan for the week to guide you through grocery shopping. Feel free to change it during the week or make new meals with the ingredients you buy.
- Make sure to select foods based on health and food preferences. For example, if you love waffles, you could select the whole grain option.
- Be open to trying new foods; this can help you find healthy foods you love.
- Have healthy food available at home and at your office. It will make it more likely for you to eat healthily.
Right Before You Eat
Create an external environment that leads to mindful eating
- Allow yourself enough time to eat in a peaceful place and sit down.
- Make sure that the place you eat is clear of clutter and move away from your work area.
- Turn off all electronic devices, as electronic distractions during meals have been negatively associated with the emotional atmosphere of the meal and lower diet quality (7).
- Turn on niece music or enjoy a conversation with co-workers, friends, or family.
Creating an environment that allows you to pay full attention to your food and emotions is the first step to behavior change.
Create an internal environment that leads to mindful eating
- Forget the diet mentality, guilt, or any judgments about foods or yourself. As you learn to enjoy all foods, you will effortlessly move to a more balanced diet.
- Identify how hungry you are. A good way to do this is to use the hunger-fullness scale.
- Look at the color, shape, and anything you can notice about the food. Then, close your eyes and take a bite. Notice the change in your perception of the food.
As you stop mindless eating, you can start eating what you need to maintain a healthy weight without the struggles.
- Enjoy every bite of food, take small bites and chew thoughtfully.
- While eating, look at the color, shape, and anything you can notice about the food. Then, close your eyes and take a bite. Notice the change in your perception of the food.
- If you catch yourself judging what you eat, take three deep breaths and remember that all foods fit into a healthy diet.
- When you are ½ way done with your plate, check again your hunger scale. Keep checking. Stop once you feel full but you could eat just a bit more.
- Check your hunger levels throughout the day. Have a snack or a meal if you are hungry. I don’t suggest you skip meals but you can delay a meal or have a smaller meal than usual those times when you are not hungry.
- It is good to come to the table hungry but not starving. This will help you to be able to enjoy food without giving priority to simply satisfying hunger.
- Check your stress or any other feelings that can trigger you to eat or not eat.
Emotions Play a Key Role in Mindful Eating
Emotions are known for triggering automatic or inadequate eating habits. For example, stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to overeating or undereating.
Thus, as part of mindful eating, check your emotions throughout the day and become aware of how they affect your eating. For example, you might notice that you overeat those days filled with stress. Then, you can prepare a strategy to deal with the stress that does not involve eating.
Trust your body to find peace and see excellent results. Mindfulness can be part of all aspects of your life, including those that impact weight loss and health, such as stress management and sleep.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.