When Eating, Eat.

Anything you can do can be done either mindlessly or mindfully.

Image by Michael Townsend Williams

Image by Michael Townsend Williams


We all do a lot of ‘doing’ everyday: work like emailing, making, reading and writing; movement like walking, sitting down, standing up, brushing teeth, stretching and bending; communication like talking, posting, liking and emailing; and of course eating and drinking. Anything you can do can be done either mindlessly or mindfully.

Let’s look at how to eat with a little more mindfulness.

Eat, then work. Work, then eat.

Always eat breakfast at home before leaving for work. Yes, that means at home. Not while you walk. Not while you take the train or tube. Not while you’re in the lift.

A good breakfast will help you think more clearly and give you the energy to cope with the unexpected.

Stop every hour for a glass of water. If you haven’t recently, stop now. There’s no time like the present.

Leave the office at lunchtime. For at least an hour. Get some fresh air, even in the rain. Your mind and body need a break. Sit down and eat mindfully. Before and after you can walk, read and do whatever you need to do to feel you’ve had a break from work.

Stop mid-morning and mid-afternoon for at least 15 mins for a cup of tea or a piece of fruit. Build healthy habits of taking regular breaks. A planned one is better that the many unplanned ones you will take if you don’t.

Eating well will help you work well. Just don’t do them at the same time!

Illustration by Frederick North

Illustration by Frederick North


Stress less.

Stress makes it harder to control your actions and urges. So if you are falling into bad eating habits I would look at two important considerations:

i) Are you stressed?

If so, can you reduce it? How much of that stress is self-inflicted? Can you say no? Can you ask for more time? Can you stop and go outside for some fresh air?

ii) What is the trigger of your bad eating habit?

What is the root cause? Ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’ a number of times to reveal the true urge behind it. Then think of how you can replace your bad habit with a more positive one. The trigger will always be there but maybe you can respond skilfully rather than react unconsciously?


The key to eating well is to be open to what is best for you in any given moment. Be flexible and adapt to life as it appears in front of you.

Who to eat with? 
Do you need time alone? Or are you craving company?

Where to eat? 
Have you been inside all day? Do you need to feel some outside space? Or are you in need of some comfort and warmth inside?

What to eat? 
Always a tricky one. Which of those voices inside your head to listen to? Do you really need that reward? Or time to give the ‘diet’ a break? A moment of reflection is all I ask. No judgement.

Breathe well. Eat well.

I have no daily routine or schedule — although I like the idea of one. That said I work everyday. Whenever I have a thought or an idea, I write it down. Whenever I feel inspired, I write or design or imagine. Whenever I have a few moments, I process my email and check out Instagram. Or I just observe … life in front of me, thoughts and feelings inside and around me.

Like many, I suffer. There are days when I really can’t be bothered. I want to run. Anywhere, but here. I want to hide, from myself. I want to escape the pain I feel inside. And yet, I know with one deep breath I can make myself feel a little better again. With a second breath, I can feel a little braver. With a third, I can begin to see the possibility within the discomfort. And by my tenth, it has usually passed and I can see and feel clearly again.


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1. Sit down to eat

Stop what you’re doing. Take some time. If you’re outside, find a bench or sit on the grass in a park.

2. Take one deep breath

From the belly, through the nose, counting to 4 as you breathe in and 6 as you breathe out. Being more relaxed, you will digest your food better.

3. Don’t drink whilst eating

15 mins before or after you eat. Again you will digest your food better as you won’t be diluting your digestive juices.

4. Don’t read, listen or speak

Bring all your attention to your food. Who grew it? Who cooked it? How did it get on your plate? What does it look like? How does it smell? And yes, how does it taste? Really explore the full range of texture and taste.

5. Be thankful

Show some gratitude. Appreciate your food. Savour each mouthful. Never take it for granted.


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BEMichael Townsend Williams