Helping your Child to Eat Mindfully (What does that even mean?)

Photo by Angela Mulligan via
Photo by Angela Mulligan via

The term “mindful eating” simply means to pay attention when we are consuming food. Being mindful helps us to enjoy the eating experience. We appreciate the smell and flavor of the food. We notice the steam coming from hot foods or the bright colors in a salad. We feel the crunch of the raw carrot and the softness of the scrambled egg.

Not only does mindful eating give us joy, but it also helps us to eat the right amount of food! If we pay attention while eating, we are able to notice that our hunger is slowly disappearing as we eat our meal. This makes it easier to figure out that perfect “sweet spot” (that comfortable no- longer -hungry feeling).

Tips for “mindful eating” to Try at Home

  1. Have meals and snacks while seated in the eating area of the home.

  2. Add nice touches. Use the “good dishes” from time to time. Light a candle. Serve the meal buffet style. Put on some background music. Get creative and have fun!

  3. If possible, eat together. This is a great opportunity to connect and have conversation.

  4. Practice patience by waiting to eat until everyone is seated.

  5. Keep the TV turned OFF while eating.

  6. Put away electronics. Phones, I-Pads and video games are distracting and make it VERY hard to practice mindful eating.

  7. Eat slowly. A general guideline is to take a full 20 minutes to eat the meal. This allows our brain to recognize that we are no longer hungry.

  8. Focus on the delicious flavor of each bite of food. Go for the next bite ONLY after swallowing the bite you have.

  9. Linger a bit at the end of the meal and enjoy fresh seasonal fruit. Pass a plate of grapes, berries or sliced fruit such as apples or oranges for a perfect ending to a mindful meal.

Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN

Nutritionist, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program

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