5 Mindful Questions to Ask Before We Eat

meditating at sunset

Is your mind too full eat healthy?  Sometimes we need to slow down, stop, and ask ourself some questions about what we are getting ready to eat.

Many of us can recall a time when we were standing over the sink shoveling food into our mouths without even realizing it. Or driving somewhere, one hand on the wheel, music and texts blasting away, while the other hand is digging deep into a bag of something sugary and salty. This is a result of the world we live in: super-sized, instantly gratified, action-packed, diet-obsessed, food-abundant, and not enough hours in the day to get it all done.   And that is how we tend to eat. Quick, fast, consuming and distracted.

We do this even though we know eating is a natural and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. We do this even though we can predict we usually feel guilty after eating like this. How we can we return to the ancient mindfulness practice of Mindful Eating amidst our busy lives? Especially when it can have profound modern implications and applications for resolving a troubled love-hate relationship with food.

Susan Albers, PsyD, asks 10 Mindful Eating questions (www.EatingMindfully.com):

  1. Do I tend to stop eating when I am full?
  2. Eat when I am hungry, rather than emotional?
  3. Not “pick” at my food?
  4. Taste each bite before reaching for the next?
  5. Think about how nourishing food is for my body?
  6. Be non-judgmental of myself when I accidentally overeat?
  7. Not mulit-task when I eat: when I eat, just eat?
  8. Be able to leave some food on my plate if I don’t want it?
  9. Eat slowly, chewing each bite?
  10. Recognize when I slip into mindfulness eating (zoned out, popping food into my mouth?)

These questions can certainly help us increase our awareness around how we eat. Perhaps they can even push that internal ‘pause’ button and create some space to allow ourselves to slow down. These reflective questions can increase our intuition to notice our hunger and nourish our bodies and minds. However, 10 questions to review before eating is a bit overwhelming when we are starting a new practice and have eaten in a particular way for most of our lives.

Here is my revised list of 5 questions for Revised Mindful Eating:

  1. Show a moment of gratitude for the food I am about to eat, whether it be a thought, one breath, or a statement expressed out loud?
  2. Do I attempt to provide a variety (colors, textures, food groups) of food for myself without making any foods “bad”?
  3. Can I allow myself to sit down and eat?
  4. Would I consider forgiving myself if I eat something emotionally because I am tired, frustrated, or lonely?
  5. How about if I lower the bar and dedicate 1 bite to mindfulness (notice the smell, texture, taste, savor it)?

When we set our goals too high, we can often set ourselves up for failure and the motivation can easily dwindle. So let’s start somewhere small and practical, on something that feels possible. Something that can invite presence into our eating, so we can begin to live a more mindful and healthy life one bite at a time.