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How to Practice Mindful Eating While Dining Out

June 4, 2024

Mindful eating can help you enjoy your meals more and make healthier decisions. It involves being fully present during your meal, paying attention to the food’s flavors, textures, and sensations, and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Here are some tips for incorporating mindful eating into your dining-out routine.

Mindful eating enhances meal enjoyment and promotes healthier choices. Try incorporating it into your dining-out routine.

Plan Ahead

If possible, look at the menu online before you head to the restaurant. Planning allows you to make a deliberate choice rather than a spur-of-the-moment decision influenced by hunger or social pressure. Choose a dish that aligns with your health goals and dietary needs.

Be Present

When you arrive at the restaurant, take a moment to center yourself. Take a few deep breaths to relax and set an intention for your meal. Focus on the company and the experience rather than distractions like your phone or the restaurant’s ambiance.

Start with a Smaller Portion

Restaurants often serve large portions. Consider ordering an appetizer as your main dish, sharing a meal with a friend, or asking for a half-portion if available. Starting with a smaller portion can prevent overeating and reduce food waste.

Eat Slowly and Savor Each Bite

Eating slowly can help you recognize when you are full before you overeat. Chew your food thoroughly, and put your fork down between bites to pace yourself. Notice the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food. Slowing down when eating enhances your dining experience and aids in digestion.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness. Start eating when you’re truly hungry and stop when you’re comfortably full, not stuffed. This practice can help you avoid the post-meal discomfort often associated with overeating.

Engage in Conversation

Enjoy the social aspect of dining out. Conversation can naturally slow your eating pace, giving your body time to register fullness. It also enhances the overall experience of sharing a meal with others.

Make Mindful Choices

Opt for grilled, steamed, or roasted dishes rather than fried. Include a variety of vegetables and whole grains. Be mindful of sauces and dressings, which can add extra calories and fat. Request them on the side so you can control the amount you consume.

Practice Gratitude

Before eating, take a moment to appreciate the effort that went into preparing your meal, from the farm to the kitchen. This practice can enhance your enjoyment and foster a positive relationship with food.

By incorporating these mindful eating practices, you can enjoy dining out while maintaining a healthy balance and making more nutritious choices. Mindful eating supports your physical health and enhances your overall dining experience.


  1. Harvard Health. Tips for healthy eating away from home
  2. National Library of Medicine. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat.
  3. American Heart Association. Dining Out Doesn’t Mean Ditching Your Diet.

If you want to develop a mindfulness practice that you can use in every aspect of your life, consider registering for our upcoming Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

Explore Our Mindfulness Programs


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