Mindful Eating

October 21, 2013

You are in a big hurry.  You can’t be late and you haven’t eaten breakfast yet.  So as you fly out of the house, you grab something and start eating as you walk to your car or the public transport that you use.  You’re eating quickly and taking big bites.  Later that day, you’re on the cordless phone caught up in an important conversation. You have to leave for a shiur in 5 minutes but you haven’t eaten supper. So while getting ready, you grab whatever’s in the refrigerator and as you run out, you open the pantry door and take the first ready-to-eat anything you see.  These are examples of mindless eating—and they are great ways to gain weight and have indigestion. When we formulate a food plan, we focus on our food intake; how many carbs, proteins, fruits, vegetables and fats we should be eating a day, and what a true portion size is.  But learning how to eat mindfully while enjoying and savoring each bite of food is just as important.

mindful eating

When you are eating, you should only be eating.  Reading, talking on the phone or working at your computer is distracting and leads to over-eating.  Concentrate on what you are eating, the taste of your food, and most importantly, chew your food thoroughly, as this is an essential part of the digestion process.  BE MINDFUL IN YOUR EATING!  Mindful eating includes:

  • Ask yourself if you really want to be eating now.

  • Don’t wait until you’re famished. .

  • Get up and leave the table. (It can take your brain 20 minutes to process that you are full, so when you finish your portions, get up and leave the table until it kicks in that you are full).

  • Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. (Satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food–without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less).

  • Set the table nicely.

  • Eat without distractions.

  • Eat when you’re sitting down.

  • Take a few breaths and center yourself before you begin eating. (This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention).

  • Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. (Notice the colors, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like).

  • Decide which food looks the most appetizing and start eating that food first. (If you save the best until last, you may want to eat it even if you are full).

  • Savor the aromas and tastes of your food as you eat it

  • If you notice that you’re not enjoying what you chose, choose something else if possible. (Eating food you don’t enjoy will leave you feeling dissatisfied).

  • Pause in the middle of eating-put your fork down.

  • Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied.

  • Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. (If you overate, don’t punish yourself. Instead, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time).

Another key strategy is to stay hydrated.  Start your day with two glasses of water and drink a glass or two before each meal and snack.  You should drink at least 10 cups of water throughout the day and even more if you are exercising.  When it’s hotter out, it is always a good idea to drink more fluids.  Remember that water is the best choice, but herbal teas and seltzer are also good.  Juices are generally high in calories.

Implement the 9 rule.  Every day, make sure to have at least six servings of vegetables (variety is important) and three servings of fruit. These are staples in disease prevention and no matter what type of dietary plan you are on, they must be incorporated.

Keep in mind that we burn most of our calories in the first two thirds of the day, so we want to consume more calories earlier on.  If you establish a curfew at night and only have liquids afterwards, you will most likely drop weight and sleep better as well.  Many years ago, a study was published using two groups of people who ate identical calories each day.  Group 1 ate their calories between 1:00 and 3:00 PM each day while Group 2 ate their calories between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM.  Group one lost weight and Group 2 gained weight.  In the evening and night, we are mostly inactive and fall asleep soon after.  Our metabolisms are slowest which means much less calorie burn.

One of the things I tell my overweight clients who are trying to lose weight is that with a good nutritious food plan and mindful eating, they will learn to enjoy food more—not less! Hashem gave us a variety of colors and tastes in our food to enjoy them.  Mindful eating will show you that food actually has a wonderful taste.

Eating mindfully is another way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”



Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss. He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs both in his office and by telephone and skype. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at Check out the his web site – US Line: 516-568-5027.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.