Mindful Eating with Diabetes

Mindful Eating with Diabetes

Learning to be more mindful can help us calmly think through situations rather than be reactive. For individuals diagnosed with diabetes, the principles of mindfulness may even help them practice better self-care.

What is mindfulness? It is being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical state in the present moment. With practice, mindfulness can help you break free from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance.

Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. It can be a helpful strategy in  controlling food intake and managing overall diabetes. Along with helping individuals make healthier food decisions, mindful eating can boost satisfaction with food choices, and help diabetics actually eat less.

Food is often used as a way to cope with stress and difficult situations. Many people who struggle with diabetes have unresolved food-related issues. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, their relationship with food becomes even more strained. It creates a perfect storm for mindless eating and overeating. 

When you practice mindful eating, it calms the storm. With mindful eating, you:

  • Allow yourself to become aware of positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation. 
  • Use all your senses while eating food that is both satisfying and nourishing.  
  • Acknowledge responses to food (likes, dislikes, neutral) without judgment.
  • Become aware of physical hunger and fullness cues, and use them to guide decisions about when to begin and end eating.
  • Gain awareness about how to make choices that support health and wellbeing.

 Here are some practical tips to encourage mindful eating.

  • Sit down when you eat as often as possible.
  • Eat without distractions such as television, reading, working or using your computer.
  • Give yourself enough time to enjoy the dining experience. At least 15 minutes should be devoted to nothing but eating your meal.

Want to know more about mindful eating and how to get started? A registered dietitian can help you put it into practice. To find a registered dietitian in your area, visit eatright.org. leaving site icon

Managing Diabetes

Check out some of our other helpful content for managing diabetes and recipes for diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Sources: Eating Right with Diabetes, leaving site icon EatRight.org, 2019; Mindfulness While Eating, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2019.

Originally published 6/11/2016; Revised 2017, 2021