n a world in which the vortex of the immediate invades us, it is essential to dedicate a pleasant moment to enjoying meals, food and oneself. Mindful eating can complement our diet and lead us to connect directly with both culinary and personal well-being.


Stress, sedentary lifestyle, a hectic pace and anxiety are not good traveling companions. They alter, so to speak, the “karma” that everyone should nurture in order to be healthy and fit. Does our state of mind influence what we eat or do we feel “down” because of what we eat? This is the crux of the matter, and mindful eating focuses on the first option. In short, we have to change our relationship with what we find on our plates. No one said it was easy, but it is crucial.

At the beginning, diets (especially those touted as “miracles”) offer happiness through recipes that promise to help you shed a handful of kilos in a couple of weeks, but when you stop following them, you gain twice as much back… Happiness for two weeks, a slim body, and then? Everything falls apart. More interesting, and an old friend of mindful eating, is the Slow Food movement. It originated in 1986, when Carlo Petrini got angry at the opening of a fast food establishment next to the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slow food champions local, fresh, home-made raw materials and, above all, eating slowly, calmly, without stress.

But before we talk about mindful eating, we have to take a look at the Mediterranean Diet, which has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The elements advocated by this type of diet include: ensuring that fresh and unprocessed plant foods are selected, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grain cereals; moderating the quantity of foods of animal origin; and seeking adequate hydration. And this Mare Nostrum diet is much more than that; it goes beyond mere nutrition, extending its focus to anthropology, sociology and agriculture. It is a lifestyle that blends perfectly with mindful eating, becoming the perfect complement to it.

Highlights and challenges

Beyond the fact that it is somewhat fashionable, and viewed as a modern movement or trend, it is possible that mindful eating encompasses a broader and more interesting aspect to help us better understand our relationship with food. Mindful eating or mindfoodness is a dietary-psychological exercise that particularly addresses the entire nutritional process, recognizing the sensations of hunger and satiety. This approach proposes that we try to differentiate impulsive consumption associated with emotional hunger, marketing, or advertising, from real hunger. It also involves increasing our self-esteem by being at ease with our bodies, without external pressures and brutal diets.

But we should also not think that mindful eating is a cure-all. For Eduard Baladia, dietitian-nutritionist and a member of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Mindful eating is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, some of its concepts are very interesting, such as becoming more aware of and better managing emotional hunger, having a healthier relationship with the act of eating, and avoiding the use of screens during meals. However, on the other hand, this movement is being hijacked by social media in an attempt to sell smoke screens. It is sold as a method that will work wonders; even the bakery industry has started to corrupt the concept, proposing the mindful consumption of pastries.” For that reason, if you have doubts or need help, it is best to consult a dietitian-nutritionist.

¿La alimentación consciente puede mejorar la salud?

Mindful eating is based on fostering an appropriate relationship with a healthy eating pattern.For the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this concept reminds us to keep talking about emotional eating. There are several descriptions in the scientific literature of how emotions have a powerful effect on our food choices and eating habits.

Don’t rush

Hold a piece of fruit in the palm of your hand, look at it, smell it, feel its touch and finally, put it in your mouth and savor all its properties, again without rushing. It is about using all five senses in the act of consuming food. You have to be aware of what you are doing and that in the end this will have an impact on your digestion, body and head. Mindful eating avoids stress and anxiety and supports self-confidence. Reflect on what you have in your hands and mouth, allow it time. It is true that this is difficult in a world based on speed, where companies give you 20 minutes to have lunch, and where it is common to eat in front of the computer (working remotely from home is also doing a lot of damage). Try to sit at a table with your colleagues and family, and chat calmly, without distractions. If you eat alone, make it a pleasant moment without any distractions; avoiding eating, for example, in front of a screen. As the English say, take it easy. Connect, by opening doors, with that film by Ang Lee, Eat, Drink, Love, in which the ritual of the table at mealtimes entertains the senses. You can even get to taste and smell the dishes, all cooked and prepared conscientiously.

This life project implies that the food we consume has emotional, nutritional and health implications. We must enjoy its sensory characteristics and avoid feelings of guilt. Mindful eating encourages the inclusion of healthy foods, chewing slowly.

No distractions

In the act of eating, the setting is fundamental. No noise. In a society where most homes have televisions in every room, it is difficult to escape from the “sin” of having them turned on. Not to mention tablets, cell phones… how many parents succumb to putting cartoons on their phones so that their children are quiet while they eat? Mindful eating advocates eating in spaces where the noise is not excessive and there are no screens, enjoying meals with other people, reinforcing the positive behavior of children at the table, talking to them about how the sensory features of the foods are perceived, how they have been cooked, where they come from. A reflection of this holistic attitude to food and ourselves is this sentence from the book Savor, by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung: “Learning to eat and live consciously is the key to experiencing health and peace. At its fullest expression, mindful eating transforms a simple meal into a spiritual experience, offering us a deep appreciation of all that has gone into the creation of food; as well as a profound understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health and the health of the planet.”

¿La alimentación consciente puede mejorar la salud?

Final note

At the end of the day, mindful eating is all about a healthy lifestyle, respecting ourselves and our surroundings (not wasting food, not using plastic containers, and so on). Activities, relaxation exercises and avoiding sedentary habits are important aspects. Of course, we must forego alcoholic beverages and stimulants. Because health comes first.

Ten tips for mindful eating

  1. Pay attention to the entire eating process by recognizing the sensations of hunger and satiety.
  2. Avoid stressful or high-anxiety situations, which can increase food intake in general, particularly of superfluous foods.
  3. Become aware of the foods you eat. This has emotional, nutritional and health implications: you will enjoy the sensory characteristics of the foods; you will not associate eating with feelings of guilt; you will be more likely to select healthy foods and chew better. As a result, the food will have a more positive impact on your health.
  4. Establish a healthy eating plan that fits your work schedule and lifestyle; avoid long periods between meals as much as possible.
  5. Choose fresh and unprocessed plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grain cereals, a moderate quantity animal-based foods, and ensure adequate hydration.
  6. Differentiate between emotional hunger and real hunger; the former comes on suddenly, while the latter comes on gradually.
  7. Be aware of what you are eating, chew well and appreciate the flavors.Dedica al acto de comer el tiempo necesario.
  8. Dedicate the necessary time to the act of eating and do not eat too quickly, you will avoid consuming more than you really need.
  9. Eat in food-friendly environments. Do it in spaces free from excessive noise and screens, and whenever possible, eat with other people. And don’t eat while watching TV or in front of the computer.
  10. Do physical activity every day and perform relaxation exercises. As much as possible, avoid sedentary behavior: this will help you have more control over your food. In addition, avoid alcoholic beverages and control your consumption of other stimulants