Make your lunch break count by practicing mindful eating. Here’s how

Published on : 11/23/23
Reading time : 8 min
  • Make your lunch break count with mindful eating. This is your daily pause: Create a mindful environment one bite at a time.

    Mindfulness isn’t just a practice; it helps you attune more deeply with your day-to-day life. Mindfulness is about being completely focused and involved in the current moment, being mindful of your thoughts and emotions without any interruptions or judgement.


    What does this have to do with eating? You can apply mindfulness to almost every aspect of your life, including how you treat and consume food. The Singapore Health Promotion Board emphasises “moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings and environment” — and this translates into being fully aware of your eating experiences, bodily sensations, and thoughts and emotions regarding food. And following the theory of mindfulness, it is done in full consciousness and without any judgement.

    A mindful attitude towards food helps improve not only our mental and emotional well-being, but our bodily health as well. For instance, mindful eating can help reduce stress, which in turn eases inflammation. It can also help relieve digestive problems, especially in people with ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It improves our digestion and makes us feel full sooner, thus avoiding overeating, which often leads to tiredness or fatigue after a meal.

    But mindful eating shouldn’t be confused with the conventional diet-based rhetoric of watching what you eat. It’s not about controlling yourself — too much salt in this, not enough protein in that — or limiting your intake to low-fat or low-calorie foods. Instead, it’s about paying attention to what nourishes your body and gives you energy. 

    This may look different from person to person. There’s no one standard for applying mindful eating in our lives.

    Why mindful eating works

    Whether we care to admit it or not, all of us have a relationship with our food. Mindful eating directs your attention to how you think and feel about food. You focus on the reasons behind your food choices, going beyond calories and macros to identify external triggers and internal motivations. Mindful eating also means being aware of how our emotions influence our eating habits.


    In an office setting, where you’re often given 30 minutes to an hour for lunch and expected to go back to work straight after, mindful eating can make a significant difference. Overeating or eating foods that aren’t nutritional can leave you feeling sleepy after eating, making it hard to keep working in the afternoon. Eating quickly doesn’t give your brain enough time to register whether you’re still hungry or not. And since mindful eating encourages eating much slower than our usual pace, it gives your brain enough time to register that you’re already full.

    Additionally, mindfulness helps us avoid distracted eating, which happens when we’re doing something (like watching a TV show) and have unhealthy snacks within our reach. You can curb this practice by preparing snacks with less sugar, sodium, and saturated fats in smaller containers. 

    On the flip side, when you’re winding down after a long day of work, you’ll want something that won’t leave you so energised that it’s hard to fall asleep. So putting together a dinner that contains more foods like nuts, rice, fatty fish, or cherries can improve sleep quality. This is because of their nutritional properties. The practice of mindful eating reminds you to be aware of these small details that improve your overall quality of life.

    Aside from being more conscious of how we prepare and eat our food, mindful eating also encourages us to look at where our produce comes from–are they locally sourced, or provided by more sustainable vendors? Because we’re becoming more conscious of what we put in our bodies and how it affects us, this will logically lead to a heightened consciousness about how our produce is grown, what these animals are fed, how they are treated, and how it affects the larger environment. Paying attention to how much we eat or purchase may also help reduce waste or minimise our consumption of animal products, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

    Finally, using our meal times to slow down and take a break from the rush of our everyday lives allows us to be more present with ourselves, helping us focus on what we’re doing in the moment. Sometimes we’re so absorbed with our jobs or whatever’s going on that we forget to just sit, breathe, and disconnect. With mindfulness, eating doesn’t have to be another task that we have to tick off from our never-ending to-do list.

    Make mindful eating a culture, not a fad


    For companies looking to promote wellness in their organisations, mindful eating is a good place to start. As lunch break is standard for all employees, regardless of department or rank, everyone in the workplace gets a set time every day when they can participate in mindful eating. This also builds camaraderie among employees.

    Many companies provide food service for their teams on-site. One way to practice mindful eating from the ground up is to adopt nutrition and sustainability standards for menus, ingredients, and food preparation. Singapore’s health guidelines and the My Healthy Plate method are good baselines for your standards. If practical and feasible, support food service providers who get ingredients from sustainable sources.

    You can also enable mindful eating among your employees by other means. Ideas include:

    • Communicating that it’s alright for employees to disconnect during their lunch break
    • Avoiding setting meetings around noon time
    • Giving vouchers for restaurants with healthy menus in your employee rewards programme
    • Supporting nutritional cooking classes in your employee learning budget
    • Designing your company cafeteria to promote mindful eating (e.g. by displaying fresh fruits and vegetables, highlighting healthy menus, allowing for both group and individual seating)


    Start eating mindfully

    To get started on your mindful eating journey, follow these tips: 

    1. First, don’t worry about achieving this for every single meal immediately. You can start with just a bite or just a couple of bites.
    2. Try some breathing exercises to get yourself into the right mindset. Focus on the present moment. Acknowledge your thoughts without judgement.
    3. Make sure you’re seated comfortably.
    4. Try not to have any screens or similar distractions around you.
    5. Focus on savouring your food. Smell it. Observe the colour. 
    6. Chew your food thoroughly. This will probably feel awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it. You may notice that you take longer to eat a small amount of food than usual. Don’t judge the sensations you feel as you practise mindful eating. Simply acknowledge and move on to the next bite.
    7. Pause in between bites to ask yourself if you still feel hungry. Why are you eating? Do you want to continue eating?
    8. Stop once you feel like you’re full.

    Let us help you get started on your journey to mindful eating. Interested in implementing nutrition and wellness in your offices? Contact us here.

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