Mindful eating.

Me and my budding mindful eater.

Today’s post was supposed to be about the Tornado & my new backpacks.

(which as I type & read sounds exceedingly boring.  those ramblings may languish in drafts forever after all.)

After your comments yesterday, however, I decided to trash that preempt that post & answer your mindful eating questions as best I can.

I challenge is I dont really know anything. 

Ive not ready any mindful/intuitive eating books.

Im not a registered dietician. 

Im not a nutritionist. 

Im a misfit who grew frustrated with how she felt, STOPPED, paid attention, listened to her body (finally) & ended up where she is today.

Old.  Forty two & three hundred plus days and feeling pretty damn ok about herself.

It has been a process (isnt everything? why did no one warn us about that when we were younger?) and for what it’s worth here are my thoughts & my process.**

What do I mean when I say mindful eating?

Being in the moment when I eat. Savoring.  Embracing.

Food for me is *fuel* in the best way. A way to express appreciation for my body.

Food is my way of supporting my body in doing what I ask it to for me each day and never a form of denial or punishment.

How did I get started?

(When I began mindful eating it wasnt really a term which was used. Ive assembled all of this in hindsight)

  • I became conscious about how food(s) made me feel (greetings gluten!): I changed nothing and simply journaled using words like full, bloated, itchy, tired, light, crabby etc.
  • I re-found my hunger.  Id been walking around STUFFED and hadn’t even noticed.  I began to STOP before I ate and analyze my hunger on a scale from 1-5.  One meant I was FAMISH.  Five meant I was over-full.  I learned I could not function if I let myself become a one & that three for me sometimes indicated I was ‘boredom eating.’
  • I used a pair of jeans as a ‘weight-barometer’ & visited the scale only at doctor’s visits.  I knew the jeans should fit easily (without lots of exercise or ANY calorie restriction) and if they didnt I viewed it all as information.  I sat with said information and decided what to do (or not to do) about it.
  • I still ate with some distraction.  Now that I realize I was intuitive eating I repeatedly see ‘experts’ admonishing us to never eat near a computer, television etc.  I won’t lie.  I love me some tv watching or reading while I eat.  For me it adds to the pleasure and does not cause me to overeat.  Im a misfit.

How can you get started today?

This is a tough one as all I really *do* know is what worked for me & what I’d share with my clients back in the day when asked.

I give you an acronym.


It’s not my best work, but it’s my own personal mnemonic device.

  • Make connection between food and feelings. (Not just emotions but literal feelings as described above.)
  • Intuitive need not be a scary word.  We are merely animals. When we stop, trust and listen our bodies intuitively know what they need.  It *is* frightening initially & completely empowering over time.
  • No distraction while eating. Savor. Experience. TASTE. Focus. No multitasking. (yeah. I am a little ‘do as I say not as I do.  At least at first…)
  • Don’t weigh. Shed the scale. Even just for a finite period of time. If you normally weigh weekly take a week off.  This will be uncomfortable but mindful eating is all about shaking things up & getting outside of your comfort-zone.

(Stops. Notes hunger.  Snacks. Sees she’s merely scratched surface even in this long post.)

Quite frankly that’s 100% where I am and how I got here.

And you?

Are you currently a mindful eater who has better more clear tips to share?

Do you have a fave intuitive eating book to recommend?

Are you gearing up to try mindful eating & want to share your planned approach?



**wanna HEAR me talking about my process? come git all nostalgic with me and listen to our Two Fit Chicks episode on the topic of mindful eating.  Just beginning to explore clean eating? Perhaps look at the Eat Clean Diet. We love us some Tosca! (and have for a while…)


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  1. says

    Oh dear, you mean we’re not supposed to publish our boring, rambly posts? Ooops.

    The only book I’ve read about mindful eating was _Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life_ by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung, and I only read that because I reviewed it a few years go. What I took most from it was the notion of eating as a sacred act, not a task item from my ever-long to-do list. (I need to focus on this an itsy bit more right now.)

  2. says

    Great tips. According to your scale, I spend most of my time going from 1 to 5 without even stopping to think about it. My dad used to always say, “You’re either starving or SO FULL!” He was right and so are you. I need to put away the distractions while eating and not feel the need to clean not only my plate, but the Weasel’s too. Love this simply put post!

  3. Vonnie says

    I am rushing off to work, but wanted to say I really like how you said food is your way of supporting your body.

    Support is a new way to frame it for me.

  4. says

    Thank you for spelling this out so clearly for me! I have been looking into this a lot lately. I think the hardest part for me would be shedding the scale….and breaking those habits of eating when I usually do and not because I’m hungry. Oh and then of course the eating without distractions….yeah that too!

  5. Tom says

    I am with Vonnie.
    I never think of that word with regards to my body.

    It’s nurturing not punishing.

  6. says

    I LOVE this post! I’m bookmarking it because I wanted to highlight every word. I love how you said “Food for me is *fuel* in the best way. A way to express appreciation for my body.” Absolutely agree. We need to remember that when we choose our foods.
    I also LOVE how you state “When we stop, trust and listen our bodies intuitively know what they need. It *is* frightening initially & completely empowering over time.” EMPOWERING, YES! :)

  7. says

    Great post, Miz!

    One question: how long did it take for you to learn mindful eating/intuitive eating? What was your incentive to start eating more mindfully?

    I discovered intuitive eating about a year ago. The hardest part is perhaps being mindful about eating – even though I mostly just eat when I eat, my mind babbles so loud I could just call it automatic eating.

    My favorite intuitive eating book is Tribole and Resch’s Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary approach that works.

    • Miz says

      I’m thumbtyping so bear with me BUT id say it took….six months to truly get it. I was starting from ZERO tho. No sense of my hunger or anything like that.

      This was about 18ish years ago and my main impetus was trying to figure out what the heck was causing me to feel so poorly.

      Ichy. Rashy. Bloated. Flabby :-) ALWAYS HUNGRY.

      It was gluten which caused it but I didn’t even realize that’s what id mindfully eliminated until almost a decade in.

      Help at all?

  8. says

    that’s the whole foods bar!! hehe. I think the don’t be distracted tip is key! I must do more of it, meaning, less distracted. Either way, I need it!

  9. Mollie says

    Always the misfit. I like that you eat while doing other things. Fr me it is the food preparation and choices I need to make with out distraction. Then I can eat any way I want too.

  10. says

    100% agree!

    I realized there was a problem with my attitude towards food when I started obsessing about every morsel. Life should be more fun and eating should be part of it. I also try to gauge my hunger ques and eat something if I really want it. Now, I simply ask myself if I really need/want it and if I’m truthfully hungry. Many times I end up passing on something because I realize I don’t actually want it :)

  11. says

    I think noting how you feel when you eat certain foods is really important. Yes, it takes time to journal things like that, but I do think it’s helpful to see where your downfalls are (also if you have any digestive issues) in order to help your body make better choices to fuel you. I always say that before I eat, I want to know what my food of choice is going to do for me, not what it will do to me. Eating well and intuitively is a habit that you have to work at in order for it to become a positive habit. Great post!

  12. Bev says

    Another tip: chew your food carefully. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scarfed down a plate of food and not been able to even remember chewing. It really helps to concentrate on chewing my food – I’m much more aware of what I’m eating, I enjoy it more, and it is easier to stop when I’m full.

  13. Nelda says

    Interesting approach to journal with the documenting of physical sensations.
    I focus mainly on emotions in mine.

  14. says

    Oooh what a fabulous post!! I totally hear you on the whole thing about being stuffed and not even realizing it. I have been aiming for an ‘always eat mindfully’ lifestyle for a while now, and I’ve become a lot better over the past couple of weeks. It’s amazing how much my bloating has gone down, simply because I’m letting myself actually feel what it’s like to be hungry (although by no means am I not eating enough – it’s just that before I was eating TONS whereas now I am eating until I’m comfortably full). I did a few book reviews on my blog a while ago – one on Savor by Thich Nhat Hahn and Dr. Lilian Cheung (http://eat-spin-run-repeat.com/2011/09/29/september-goal-check-in/) and another on Eating Mindfully by Dr Susan Albers – definitely a great read for anyone looking to get started!! (http://eat-spin-run-repeat.com/2011/11/10/book-review-eating-mindfully/). I found Eating Mindfully much more practical with its advice and lessons – one I’d recommend for sure!

  15. says

    “I viewed it all as information.”

    This is where I tend to stumble. I start making everything MEAN something, when it’s just data.

    Anyway, I tend to resist labels…so I don’t like to define myself as an intuitive eater or a mindful eater, even if that’s what I strive for (and it’s funny because I often see others refer to me as such).

  16. says

    this post makes me smile! I listen to my body 98% of the time, the other 2% I listen to my emotions lol
    I also find myself eating while watching tv but like you, it doesnt make me or cause me to eat too much or food I shouldn’t. Have read few books, contemplated ‘certifcation’ in intuitive eating so I could help my clients, and yet your tips are clear as crystal!

  17. says

    I try to very aware of what I’m eating and eating when hungry. I think that when you start to try to eat whole foods, clean foods, then you’re definitely more aware and mindful just by default.

    Oh and tried to reply to your comment and it bounced back – just wanted to wish you luck for your hot hot run. Hope it goes well.

  18. says

    I love all you have to say. You & I are a lot alike in terms of “mindful” although I do it a bit different but all that matters is we find our own “mindful” & make it work for us! :-) I still weight BUT use clothes too. This works best for me & especially as I aged & now getting even older – I need to check be very very aware & mindful – age plays shit with your body! 😉

  19. says

    After ‘going paleo’ in August I was working on being a mindful eater. I think I was there. Funny thing is, I stay the same weight. Which is good to know, I do know how to maintain. For months I was able to stay the same. Now I’m tracking. Which for whatever reason seems to have the effect of me not paying attention as much. It’s all so interesting to me. It’s almost like I sit back and watch myself lately. It’s a far cry better than the obsessiveness I used to feel about it all though.

  20. says

    I loved reading your thoughts today, Carla! Actually, I’ve loved catching up on all your posts since I was away although I haven’t commented – I surely visit your site daily and appreciate your insight, honesty, and candor when it comes to sharing about your life and your fitness journey!

    I’m getting better at mindful eating – I still snack when I don’t need it but I’m very aware of when I’m doing it now and notice the difference my body feels when I fuel it properly. As Lindsay Cotter always says, “NOURISH!” I like that. :) Bookmarking this for future posts!

  21. says

    I’m WORKING on getting there! I wish I had more time to sit and enjoy my meals. I know YOU KNOW how it is with a tornado…especially a mini tornado….I find myself eating random meals at random times

  22. says

    I am soooo guilty of eating in front of the TV. It’s something growing up we weren’t allowed to do except on Fridays to watch TGIF and enjoy our pizza, but it’s much more of an everyday thing for myself and my husband. I think (read: hope) that’ll change when we have children.

    I try my best to be conscious of my eating, which I think I’ve gotten pretty good at – but you’re right, sometimes you don’t even realize how much you’re overeating until you actually think about it… there are so many times where I stop eating when I could definitely keep going, and I realize I AM full, whereas other times you look for that “OMG I’M SO FULL” feeling, and then you feel gross for hours.

    It’s definitely a balancing act, and something that you have to consciously think about for awhile, and hopefully it becomes routine.

  23. says

    Refinding the hunger is a HUGE one. For so long, ok, really decades, I didnt even really knew what it felt like to be hungry. I knew what it felt like to fill a bottomless pit and go into a food coma, but I never really understood being hungry. It’s a big step, and life lesson, to reconnect your mind to your stomach and actually listen to it. Great post as per usual :)

  24. says

    I am not. But what I have read intrigues me. Funny thing is that when I eat crap I feel like crap but somehow that is not a big enough deterrent to keep me from doing it again:(

  25. says

    Appreciated Satu’s question about timeframe. I’m trying to get there – mindful eating – as nothing else has worked for me… But I realise it’s gonna take some time!

    I like the notion of using a piece of clothing as a guide rather than the scale as well.

    This post has come at a really useful time Miz… thanks.

  26. says

    i am far more mindful now and much of is thanks to your podcasts and things you’ve written. I also started a process a few years ago of focusing on what TO eat instead of not to eat and that turned food around in a major way for me. I am still a work in progress to not give in to sugar just because I see it, but it’s all a journey!

  27. says

    Great post! Thank you for this!

    Changing my relationship with food was important for me because I was an expert at mindless eating in the past! I stuffed my face and never appreciated the food I was eating.

    Now, I try to apply mindful eating day in and day out! My relationship with food has changed to say the least!

    p.s. I love me some snacks while watching a movie, and like you, it adds to the pleasure of the experience :)

  28. says

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I started my journey to mindful eating in October of 2011. I was so fed up with feeling bloaty and gross from all the nasty college food and drinking habits that I was consuming in order to “keep up” with my sorority sisters. I can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t adapted to this lifestyle. I feel fresh and fit when I wake up and never feel guilty about the foods that I am eating. I don’t have to spend time overexercising in the gym and I can enjoy treats on occasion when it is something that I am truly craving and cannot indulge in very often. I love that you are share this information with your readers and I really hope that anyone who might be considering this lifestyle will be inspired to do so after this post! THANK YOU!

  29. says

    I’ve found that the more I have made my life an active life the more I have wanted healthy foods – I no longer come home craving sweets and treats. My body knows that it needs protein and healthy fats and so, that’s what it sends me cravings for. It is a process but over the last three years I can now look back and think “wow, I haven’t even WANTED any of that old crap anymore”

  30. says

    One of the biggest changes I made was making eating a focus – no more eating while on the computer, watching TV, sitting around chatting. I found that when I did that, my hand just kept going back into the bag/tin/etc w/o thinking about what I was doing and before I knew it, I was at a 5 on your scale – nauseous and feeling awful.
    I also think calorie counting, for me, is not the best method of mindful eating. I became too wrapped around the numbers – didn’t really matter what I was putting into my body – not really focused on WHAT I was eating and how it affected me.
    PS. Love that pic of you and the Tornado =)

  31. says

    Great suggestions, Miz! I’m still a slave to the scale and the “should do” things like Weight Watchers, when sometime I actually “feel” like if I took all this minutia away, I’d be okay dealing with the big picture.

  32. says

    I remember reading about ‘Mindful Eating’ in a magazine quite a few years ago – I think it was not long after we moved into our house which was 10 years ago now. Time flies!

    The idea always made sense to me, but I’ve struggled with putting it into practice. When Husband started traveling for work last fall, I found I was able to focus on it (so much easier when I only had to feed myself) and I felt like I was really making progress – until I had a really bad few weeks this spring and now it feels like I’ve erased all the progress I had made. Even worse, I feel like I’m not even sure how to get back to where I was.

    Now I am trying to journal – something I’ve tried before but have had a hard time sticking too. I’m hoping my brief period of success will motivate me this time though – it was working and I was feeling really good and I want to get back there darn it!

  33. says

    I love her your mindful eating story.
    I must say, I struggled less with mindful eating before I became immersed in the healthy living blogosphere!
    Once I started reading everyone else’s ideas about eating well, I started to over-analyse what I was doing.
    Thinking I just need to go back to my roots!

    • Nan says

      That’s how I am as well, Tamera.
      I am like a little kid seeing shiny objects. I keep changing when I see a diet work for someone else.
      I need to focus.

  34. says

    I’m pretty good about the mindful part when shopping, not so great when it comes eating something enjoyable. I seem to have come equipped without an off switch.

    So being in “buffet” situations, or being near an unattended plate of cookies, etc, causes my “intuition” to think there is no such thing as enough, let alone too much.

    I do way better controlling my environment than my intuition!

  35. cheryl says

    As a distance runner/triathlete my food is fuel also. I started making my own yogurt and going to farmer’s markets back in the early 70s and was considered “weird” by my friends, but I am still slim, muscular and flexible and semi-fast and I attribute a lot of it to my nutrition. No books. I eat what my body tells me too-even if it’s dark chocolate!

  36. says

    L.O.V.E. this post!! You have perfect timing. I am zeroing on this for myself as of late and I warn that your name and a link to this post may be showing up on my blog tomorrow AM. Adore…

  37. says

    Young Miz, that’s a very good post,
    I said Young Miz, I was fairly engrossed.
    I just read it and I’m sure I did find
    Many ways to eat more better

    It’s fun to read about M.I.N.D.
    It’s fun to read about M.I.N.D.
    It had everything for me to enjoy
    And to make me a more healthy boy.

  38. messymimi says

    When i’m hungry, i give my body the healthy fuel it wants.

    When i’m comfortable, i stop.

    It’s taken years, but yes, it does work (even for this sugar addict in her 7th year of sugar sobriety).

  39. says

    I’m terrible at intuitive eating, really terrible! Is it possible that some of us just need a more structured approach or maybe I just need to focus more. I do multi-task while eating way too often, but it’s how I fit things in sometimes. :)

  40. says

    Great outlook. Food as fuel, food as nourishment, food as the cause of how your body feels–the good and the bad. For me, I also never read an ‘intuitive eating’ book, but over the past year have worked on staying conscious of what I eat and subsequently how it makes me feel. When I notice I feel bloated, or headachey, or crampy, or even cranky, I recall what I ate and try to pinpoint a cause. (For me, that often meant gluten, too!)

    Everyone’s body is different, and so each of us must look at ourselves–listen to our own bodies–and find what food choices and eating patterns work for us. Thanks for setting an example, and good luck to all!

  41. Robyn Post says

    Lovely post, Carla. I first learned about mindful eating from Sensei Tristan Truscott, and it has worked for me. It wasn’t until I started paying close attention to each.and.every.bite I took that I truly understood this concept. It worked for me when I *CHOSE* to lose 25 lbs of baby-turned-bad-eating-habits weight last summer. And I use the word *CHOSE* very mindfully. It wasn’t until I fully embraced that losing weight and feeling better were more important to me than the instant gratification of a particular food–for me, it was something sweet–that I finally found the inner strength to lose the weight and keep it off. I made simple changes that made a world of difference: I got rid of most sugars and all artificial sweeteners and changed to using agave nectar almost exclusively. I stopped drinking sodas, loaded up on low-fat proteins in the morning, allowed myself to eat dark chocolate as a treat, moved away from most carbs and only ate good carbs earlier in the day. I snacked on exactly TWELVE almonds for morning and afternoon snacks before I got too hungry and lost complete control (your 1-5 factor). And I counted calories for the first time in my life so I had a complete understanding of what I was putting into my body vs. what I was burning in my favorite forms of exercise. I really did stop craving all that sugar I had romanced for so long, and I started craving things like kale, and Brussels sprouts. Really. I do not religiously count calories any longer, but the principals I learned have stuck, and I feel infinitely better!

  42. says

    I too like eating while reading or doing something else and agree it adds to my pleasure. It actually makes me slow down and enjoy my food more. Otherwise I find myself whoofing it down to get to the next thing I want to do. That is what spells disaster for me.

  43. says

    As someone who was obviously addicted to food and morbidly obese, intuitive/mindful eating didn’t really work for me. I “intuitively” wanted to overeat. I’m still a calorie counter and will be forever. It works for me. But my perceptions are definitely changing. I look at food as FUEL now. I do savor and enjoy it, but it’s fuel for my body for the activities I do.

  44. Leah says

    I would say I am an aware eater. I LOOK at the food I am eating, think about it’s texture and taste etc. I also pick things that have the nutrients I crave. Right now with marathon training in full swing I like more protein and healthy fats. Carb overload gives me serious sugar spike headaches. I like your approach too

  45. says

    I admit to being an unmindful eater sometimes. I often eat while working/blogging/computing. And in the car. But, I am generally pretty good about the eating.

    I’m with you on the scale! I hardly ever weight myself and that makes me much less obsessive about weight. If my clothes get tight I need to make it right!

  46. says

    With Intuitive Eating, I have found such joy and freedom with food. It’s taken me about 5 years to really understand the peace that it gives me. Thanks for sharing the message. Blessings!

  47. says

    Love it. Especially the don’t eat while distracted bit, which I suck at.

    How about: Food is not recreation.

    When we treat food as entertainment we’re asking to gravitate toward the stuff that isn’t good for us. It’s as dangerous as hungry shopping!

  48. says

    Love this post for so many reasons. I have become so mindless with my eating and I know that it’s something that I need to work on but often don’t know where to start. So I very much appreciate these tips and starting points. I’m bookmarking/pinning/printing out this post!

  49. says

    This is an awesome post!

    I definitely need to work on mindful eating. I think your first two suggestions — recording how I feel after eating certain things & actually stopping to gauge my hunger would really help!

  50. says

    I’m so bad at multi-tasking during my lunch. I get 20 minutes at school – so I’m usually inhaling my lunch while catching up online. Sooo bad but worth it to me. I find that I still do it during the summer just because I’m programmed to do it. Well – except for those beach days! Thanks for the pointers!!!

  51. says

    Aloha Carla!
    Fabulous post!!
    Mindful Eating is found in the body not the books…you found it and others can too. BEing in the body and not the head is the practice.
    Thanks for sharing and spreading the message.
    Big Love and Aloha, Gina

  52. says

    I’m like you with the scale–only get on one at the doc’s office. My clothes tell me everything I need to know. My one downfall, I admit, is the occasional late afternoon not so mindful eating. yes, I’m putting something like almonds into my mouth, but too many of them if I do it while on the computer or (gasp!) even making dinner. I try to overcome it with asking myself “am I hungry,” and only eat if the answer is yes. Work in progress!

  53. says

    For me, the biggest thing was making time to eat. When I was in college and working my first jobs after that, I ate healthy, but I was always rushing, so I never enjoyed the food and was often sick as a result.

    Once I gave myself enough time to sit and enjoy the food, I started tasting it more, being more satisfied with it, and feeling better generally about my relationship to food. Also, eating with friends makes a difference. Whenever possible, I try to get someone else involved in any meals I enjoy.

  54. says

    Great tips… I have started to become aware of “boredom eating” and trying to drink more water. That does two things. 1. Helps me stay hydrated. I’m a runner, so that’s a plus. 2. It will often give me the “full” feeling which helps battle the need to eat. Oh ya, 3. It makes me go number 1 which gets me out of desk and moving around the office. That’s good exercise, right?

  55. says

    M.I.N.D… That is brilliant.
    The “N” will be so hard for me. I can’t even imagine pulling that off as eating for me is so often done while doing something else. Probably sounds odd that I’d find this part hard, but it will be.

  56. says

    That is how I eat about 80% of the time. If I focus on whole foods and colorful fruits and vegies I’m good. I do still have days where I slip into bad habits and emotionally eat- usually something junky. I have a sweet tooth but definitely find it is contained when I’m eating properly. Interesting post.

  57. Karen says

    This is such an interesting read. The thing I find gets in my way of being a more mindful eater is small children – as soon as anything happens the perpetration time for meals for me is lost, lunch is my biggest struggle. Being allowed to eat uninterrupted is probably one of the things I miss the most and my partner just doesn’t understand. I feel like every time I sit down to eat a silent signal is released saying now is the perfect time to start something with your brother !

  58. says

    I agree that learning to eat mindfully is a process… and it’s taken me a while to “get” some of the concepts, but these days I’m actually doing quite well. I will confess that like you, I read, compute or watch a program while eating. I’m okay with that, since it doesn’t cause me to forget to stop eating.

    • Miz says

      YES YES YES THAT IS TOTALLY IT (points up and down to Renee at the same time).


      especially, around here, since the “distraction” (ok TV :)) is 99.9% levity and laughter producing…

  59. Renee says

    You’re the first people to claim mindful eating while doing other things.

    That’s an intriguing concept for me because I’d thought I could never be mindful while watching Project Runway LOL

    I wonder if I focused and portioned out my food before plopping on my couch if I could still be mindful??

  60. says

    Love the acronym! Intuitive eating is something that I think a lot of people struggle with once they hit puberty. It’s important though. No one knows best, but your own body!

  61. says

    Great post.

    These are some great, easy to put into place ideas. I especially like the one about focusing on eating, and not trying to multitask. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

    In good health,


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