Everything You Need to Know About the Mindful Eating Diet

Getting Started with Lift’s Quantified Diet


Thanks for being a part of the Quantified Diet Project, one of the most ambitious projects ever to learn what works in dieting.

Whether you stick to your diet every day or not, please fill out the surveys we send you and track your progress on Lift. Your responses are really important—and much appreciated.

QUICK TIPS

  • Your diet in a nutshell: Eat healthier foods and portion sizes by practicing at least one mindful eating technique at every meal.
  • Track the diet on Lift. We’ve set up the plan so that you’ll eat one meal on the diet on the first day, two meals on the diet on the second day, and fully adopt the diet on the third day.
  • Read this guide. If you have more questions, ask them in the discussion section when you check in to Lift.
  • Get a diet buddy. Ask a family member, friend or coworker to join the Quantified Diet and help keep you accountable.

WHY IS THIS DIET HEALTHY?

Mindful eating is more of a technique than a diet. On the mindful eating diet, you’ll practice mindful eating techniques that help you listen to your body’s natural cues around hunger. As you pay attention to what you eat, you’ll develop skills to override unhealthy eating habits and cravings: overeating, eating too quickly, emotional eating (like when you’re sad, tired, or bored), and even your desire for junk food and sweets.

WHAT CAN YOU EAT?

You can eat anything, but when you eat you should practice a mindful eating technique. An easy technique to try first is to put your fork down between each bite.

Popular mindful eating techniques

Try at least one mindful eating technique eat each meal. Here are some popular ones:

  • Put your fork down between each bite.
  • Chew your food 25 times or more (this helps your digestion, too!).
  • Pay attention to all aspects of the food you’re eating: taste, texture, smell.
  • Eat in a place reserved for food (like the dinner table).
  • Eat without distractions: TV, book, or computer.
  • Pause between bites, rather than reaching for the next bite immediately. Take a breath between bites.
  • When you notice that you’re almost full, pause for a minute. See if you really need to eat more.

Find a full list of techniques at Zenhabits or listen to Leo give advice in person in this video.

MORE TIPS

How to beat cravings

Cravings are something you’ll inevitably face on the diet. Prevent cravings that come from emotion/hormone changes by caring for your body (get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, don’t overwork yourself at the gym). Get rid of triggers that cause cravings, like the candy bar laying on the kitchen table.

Here are tips on how to beat cravings by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple and tips from Leo about overcoming emotional eating.

Drink beverages mindfully

How many drinks besides water do you normally drink in a day? Sweetened beverages have a lot of calories from sugar, which means you’re not getting a lot of nutrition from them. I’s easy to drink hundreds of calories without realizing it, since you don’t feel full after drinking calories like you do after eating calories.

If you’re trying to lose weight, try sticking to natural, unsweetened beverages like flavored water and herbal tea. Exception: you can find ways to consume beverages mindfully, like Leo does with his mindful tea drinking ritual (#5 on the list in the link).

Drink water when you first feel hungry

If you feel hungry between meals today, drink a glass of water and wait 5-10 minutes.

Are you still hungry? Sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger. Try this again the next time you are unusually hungry. If you’re trying to eat less, drinking a cup of water before a meal can help.

How to approach social situations

It can be difficult practice mindful eating when you are eating out with friends. Here’s a daring tip from Leo: encourage your friends and family to eat mindfully with you.

“One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones. It can be challenging to incorporate mindfulness in a social situation but not impossible. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating. Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavors and textures, likes and dislikes. At first this may seem a little weird but trust me, you’ll soon find yourself having fun with it.”

Follow these tips to prevent overeating or eating unhealthy foods while distracted by good conversation:

  • Plan ahead. Look up the menu and pick out healthy dishes beforehand.

Eat a modest meal beforehand and eat lightly when you’re out. You might enjoy eating out more if you’re completely focused on enjoying the company of friends.

  • Put down your fork after each bite. It’ll feel less awkward than counting out how many times you chew.
  • Cut your portion in half before you start eating and doggie bag it. If you can’t doggie bag it right away, make a line in your dish or cut away the part you want to take home right away.

Eating mindfully while traveling

Traveling is another time when you’ll be distracted but also face constraints around the types of foods available to you. Here are tips for sticking for eating mindfully:

  • Plan ahead: pack healthy snacks. If you think you’ll eat the snacks mindlessly, like nuts, pack individual servings in plastic bags.
  • Get a hotel room with a kitchenette and buy groceries so that you’re aware of the food you’re eating.
  • If you’re in a rush or have to eat in transit, pause for just a few seconds as you take a bite and reflect on how you feel.

YOU’RE READY TO GO!

Good luck on your diet. Here are some final tips:

Many thanks to our content partner Zen Habits for helping us write this guide.