Mindful Eating in May

Posted on May 8, 2023

We teach our children from a young age that what we eat greatly affects our health. But food experts and psychologists caution that how we eat—and how often—also play an important role. Families can too often find themselves in a pattern of mindless eating: an unhealthy habit of consuming meals while multi-tasking or being distracted by everyday activities such as watching TV, playing a video game, sending an email, reading a book … you get the idea.  

Eating mindlessly can quickly spiral into unhealthy behaviors, like eating too much, eating too often or eating to seek comfort or distraction, rather than responding to true hunger pangs (or stomach growls). Slowing down and savoring a meal, free from distraction, can help transform your family into healthier eaters. Follow these simple tips to bring the practice of mindful eating into your home:

  • Start a conversation. When was the last time you thought about your food and where the ingredients came from? Take a moment to think about the colors on your plate, the flavors or textures in your mouth or the aromas filling the kitchen. Get the conversation started by encouraging your children to become better acquainted with their five senses. 
  • Take smaller, slower bites. Have you or your kids ever finished a meal and barely remembered what you just ate? Slow things down. Instead of scarfing down Grandma’s time-honored meatloaf, teach your children to take smaller, more mindful bites, chewing thoroughly and waiting until their mouth is completely empty before reaching for their fork or spoon.
  • Think opposite. If your kids are right-handed, ask them to eat dinner one night with their left hand. They’ll have to work a little harder on their hand-mouth coordination, but this practice will allow them to be more focused on their meal, and as a result, more mindful.
  • Power down. Mealtime should be free from all electronic devices, including TV, cellphones and video games (and all other gadgets and gizmos). The dinner table should also be free from books, games or other distracting objects. Practicing mindfulness means being in the present moment and giving each meal—and each family member—your undivided attention.