Mindful eating can help you enjoy eating, lose weight, and improve your relationship with food. Try these five tips to make your mealtimes more mindful.

Mindful eating involves consciously focusing on the sensations, thoughts, and emotions related to eating, promoting a more aware and balanced relationship with food. It’s been linked to healthier weight, greater self-compassion, and better digestion.

Bring the practice of mindfulness to your eating with these five strategies.

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Photography by Boris Jovanovic/Stocksy United

Mindless eating happens when we eat without awareness, often resulting in overeating and unhealthy food choices due to neglecting portion sizes and food quality.

Eating mindfully, however, brings purposeful intention to eating. You’ll recognize it by hallmarks like slowing down, using all your senses to savor each bite, reducing distractions, and even grocery shopping with a pre-written list.

Distracted eating often leads to overeating. Research shows that the amount of attention we give our food influences the amount we consume.

Consider making mealtimes a device-free zone. Or, if you find yourself pulled away from your plate by other distractions, like noisy roommates or eating in the car, do what you can to make mealtime a quiet, sit-down affair. The more you can focus your attention on your food, the better.

Eating slowly is a reliable way to savor your food and potentially maintain a healthier weight. According to one study, people who ate more slowly were significantly less likely to have obesity. Try chewing your food slowly, savoring each bite’s flavors and textures whenever possible.

Spend some time considering your meal’s various delights before you pick up your fork. Will that edamame bean make a pleasing pop as it leaps from its shell? Can your nose distinguish individual herbs in a soup? Let yourself revel in these sensory enjoyments as you eat.

A major part of mindful eating is simply eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. Keep tabs on your appetite by getting familiar with your own physical cues.

Before sitting down to a meal, take a moment to assess how hungry you are. Then, as you eat, pause frequently to allow bite-by-bite check-ins. When you notice you’re feeling pleasantly (but not overly) full, it’s time to stop.

Consider taking a moment to express thanks before a meal. This could take the form of a gratitude prayer or a simple acknowledgment of the efforts of those involved, such as farmers, drivers, and grocery workers. However you choose to practice it, incorporating gratitude can enhance your awareness and enjoyment of the eating experience.

Plus, this practice might even help you eat healthier. One study found that gratitude facilitated healthy eating behaviors in teens and young adults.

Practicing mindfulness has some impressive benefits. Bring them to the table (literally) by applying them to your eating. At mealtimes, slow down, savor, monitor your hunger, and, most importantly, enjoy!