How To Practice Mindful Eating - A Beginner's Guide

Tagged in: Resources
How To Practice Mindful Eating - A Beginner's Guide


Erik Wardell - Digital Marketing Professional, Mindfulness Coach and Plant-Based Chef at Tuesday Foods, shares his tips for eating mindfully.

Have you ever caught yourself mindlessly stuffing perfectly crisp tortilla chips with fresh guac into your mouth? Chip after chip after chip? Or, scalded the top of your mouth with molten cheese because you couldn’t wait to eat your pizza? I sure have. 

As a busy parent, I still catch myself mechanically snarfing down a meal at the end of a chaotic day, even though I know there’s a better way to eat. 

However, most people don’t know that mindful eating is even a thing. They think there’s eating and there’s eating. When in fact, there are two types of eating: mindful eating and mindless eating. 

I’m not a nutritionist, but I do love cooking (I’m a chef at Tuesday Foods) and eating well. I’m also a mindfulness meditation teacher and I love the challenge of practicing mindful eating in my life. 

Here’s my take on what is needed to weave a mindful eating practice into daily life. 


Mindful eating is all about practicing inquiry around:

  1. What you’re eating, 

  2. Why you’re eating,

  3. How you’re eating.

By gaining a better understanding of these three components, you’ll be able to cultivate greater discernment around your eating habits. And, quickly start down your own path of mindful eating. Let’s take a closer look at each one. 


The first thing you need to do when starting to eat more mindfully is step back and take a closer look at what you’re putting in your body and how it’s making you feel. 

Most people have never taken the time to slow down and figure out how different foods impact the way they show up in the world from a physical, mental, and spiritual standpoint. 

Being mindful of what you’re eating can allow you to get to know the foods your body likes and dislikes. Or, in other words, what your body needs and what it doesn’t need. 

However, if you’re a mindless or semi-mindless eater, you may need to do some cleansing to get to the point where you can separate the signal from the noise. Your body will typically crave unhealthy food choices when your microbiome is out of whack from mindless eating. 

A good cleanse can help reset your baseline. From that point, you can begin slowing down and listening to your body for cues about what it does and doesn’t need. 

If you want to be extra mindful about what you’re consuming, it may help to know that various meditative traditions recommend cutting out or limiting the consumption of foods that will excite or dull your mind. 

According to Ayurveda, rajasic foods like coffee, hot sauce, onions, and garlic can overstimulate the mind. On the flip side, tamasic foods like meat, alcohol, and processed foods will blunt your mind. 

If you’re planning on sitting in a meditation retreat for 10 days, you’ll likely be asked to cut all these foods out completely. However, if you’re a regular human going about your day-to-day, thinking about modifying your consumption of them is a better place to start. 

I love the example of how many monks and ascetics in Eastern traditions drink green tea instead of black tea. While they don’t give up the stimulating effects of caffeine altogether, they intentionally choose green tea which contains L-Theanine. This amino acid allows the caffeine in the green tea to release slowly and smoothly as opposed to the more speedy stimulating effect that black tea provides. 

I love this because it’s indicative of taking the middle path when it comes to what you’re eating. You don’t need to flog yourself with dietary restrictions and you don’t want to eat everything that passes in front of your face. However, you can split the difference and make informed and intentional choices about what you’re putting in your body.

I also love the idea that there is food and then there is fun. Food is what will help set you up for a healthy life. By comparison, fun is all those “foods” like doughnuts, chips, and pizza, that are insanely delicious, but probably do more harm than good from a health and wellness standpoint. Having too much fun can become a slippery slope. 

Make a conscious distinction between the two by labeling what you’re eating with the words food or fun. This will help you distinguish between foods that promote your well-being and those that might inhibit it. 

Paying more attention to what you’re eating empowers you to know how your body handles different foods. And, how they impact your energy, your belly, and your clarity of mind throughout the day. 

It also allows you to make intentional choices about what kinds of food you want impacting your physiological, psychological, and spiritual well-being. 

If you want those choices simplified for you, you can use a plant-based meal delivery service like Tuesday Foods and rest assured that you’re getting nothing but wellness-enhancing foods. 

Questioning what you’re eating is the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to cultivating a mindful eating practice. But, it won’t make you a mindful eater. For that, you also need to start questioning why and how you’re eating. 


How much awareness do you have about why you eat? The number of motives behind why we eat can be countless. To confuse things even further, many of those motives lurk in the subconscious. 

Whether you’re feeding an unconscious sugar addiction, eating to soothe a psychological wound, or simply sustaining a habit of three meals a day, eating happens for all sorts of less-than-worthy reasons. 

It also happens for plenty of good reasons. Like eating to be social, to experience new cuisines, or to partake in seasonal delights like the Palisade peach season here in Colorado. 

The reality is that there is only one reason we need to eat — for nourishment. 

To make sure that you’re eating to nourish your body, mind, and spirit and not for some lesser reason, start asking yourself: “Why am I choosing to eat right now?” 

Always try to look deeper at the knee-jerk “Because I’m hungry.” While sometimes that will be true, often there are ulterior motives that are worth examining. 

This question is especially helpful when it comes to snacking and impulsive eating. It’s also a question worth asking both before you start eating something and at various points while you’re eating

If you were brought up to be a member of the “clean plate club,” ask this question at least once (if not more) when you start feeling satiated. It can save you from consuming unnecessary calories and help you avoid the oh-so-sexy bloat and indigestion that accompany overeating. 

When you get used to asking “Why am I choosing to eat?” you’ll start to ferret out the questionable motives behind your eating. 

From that point, you get to choose if those motives are worth listening to. Or, if you want to consciously choose to take control of your life by taking control of you’re eating. 

Before you can truly start practicing mindful eating, you also have to learn to question how you eat.


How many meals have you finished without really tasting the subtleties of your food? 

Whether you’re wrapped up in a thrilling conversation with a friend, working at your computer, or simply daydreaming, mindless eating is something we have all experienced. Understandably. Sometimes we just need to feed ourselves some calories to keep our days moving! We’re all human.

This type of mindless feeding is the antithesis of mindful eating which demands that you be fully present for your meal. 

While it’s not always possible to closely examine how you’re eating, there are very few situations where you can’t slow down and establish a deeper relationship with the quality of your food consumption and your food. 

Ask yourself:

  • Is it fast? Is it slow? 

  • Are you fully chewing each bite or swallowing each after a partial chew?

  • What flavors and smells are you noticing? 

  • What is the temperature of your food? 

  • What are the colors and textures you're experiencing? 

  • What does it sound like when you chew it? 

  • Where did the food in a single bite come from? 

  • How much water and sun was necessary to create that bite? 

  • Who prepared the meal? Did they prepare it with love?

How often do you ask yourself some of these questions during a meal? There’s only one honest answer. That’s why as part of almost any intro to mindfulness class, the instructor will teach the raisin exercise

This mind-expanding exercise can show you a lot about how you are and aren’t eating. Give it a try. It will allow you to begin deeply experiencing food with all five senses: touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. And, it’s guaranteed to help you learn some mindful eating basics. 

Understanding how you’re eating also becomes easier when you minimize distractions while dining. Whether it’s a conversation, scrolling, or watching something, it’s best to focus on eating when you’re eating. Especially when eating alone. 

With a little practice, you’ll find that you can eventually practice mindful eating both alone and while in conversation with family or friends. 

Slowing down and experiencing each meal consciously will also help you begin cultivating gratitude for your food. Which in turn allows you to look at food as nourishment for your human experience vs. something that you just need to consume three times a day. 

This type of gratitude honors the plants, animals, farmers, and chefs that supply you with the life-giving nourishment that makes your existence possible. 

Now that you have the three keys to mindful eating, let’s get practical. 


Mindful eating doesn’t need to feel like a painstaking spiritual endeavor. 

Start by doing the mindful raisin exercise and discover how mindful eating can be a completely different experience than the one you’re used to. 

Then, every time you eat, or at least when you remember to, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What am I eating? 

If you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth with a high level of certainty and feel good about its ability to benefit your well-being, reconsider it. 

2. Why am I eating? 

Probe the motives behind your eating and choose only to honor those that are worthy. Primarily, the need for nourishment. And, if you choose to eat for fun, to socialize, or to experience something new, do it intentionally. 

3. How am I eating? 

Explore the various qualities of your eating and your food with all of your senses. There’s no specific set of questions you must ask. Simply allow your senses and your curiosity to guide you. 


I also recommend practicing not being overly judgmental of your eating. If you find yourself with marinara dribbling down your chin and a belly full of pasta without having really tasted any of it, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. You’ll have plenty more opportunities to practice mindful eating. 

Finally, a mindfulness meditation practice can go a long way toward helping you eat and live more mindfully. Consider incorporating one into your life. 

I recommend taking an online course with John Kabat-Zinn, who is the Mr. Miyagi of mindfulness here in the west. Or, downloading something like the headspace app and taking a primer in mindfulness meditation. 


Mindful eating is a practice of cultivating awareness and discernment around your food consumption. One that will make you more connected to the present moment, your food, and yourself. 

If you take the time to learn the three keys to mindful eating and actually practice them, the experience of eating will become nourishing in more ways than you ever imagined it could. 

Jumpstart your mindful eating journey with plant-based meals from Tuesday Foods.