Who else has eaten half the bag of pretzels before they’ve even finished the first episode of a Netflix night? I have often inhaled snacks without even remembering, let alone enjoying, them. That kind of mindless snacking led me to seek out a different way to approach food: mindful eating. What is mindful eating, you ask? It’s a way of eating that helps you to be better in tune with your body and the way it feels to eat. It is an approach to food that can help you eat healthier, while also improving your mental and physical well-being. If that sounds good to you, read on for a list of mindful eating books that can help you get started on your journey to eating with more awareness and more joy.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is not a form of dieting. Rather than focusing on the quantity of food, mindful eating focuses on the quality of what we choose to consume and the experience of eating itself. Mindful eating invites you to be more conscious of what you are doing and how you are feeling before, during, and after you eat. This increased awareness helps to better understand when you are full and when you are hungry. By listening to body cues and relishing the simple act of preparing and consuming meals and snacks, mindful eating can lead to a more joyful relationship with food.
Feel like giving it a try? Here is a quick mindful eating exercise. Take your favorite fruit and set aside a few minutes to enjoy it with your other senses before it reaches your tongue. Pretend it’s the first time you’ve ever seen the fruit. (You may want to do this when you’re alone, so you won’t feel self-conscious about looking perplexed by, say, a strawberry.) What does it look like? How does it feel in your fingers? What does it smell like? Does that smell remind you of anything else? Now, close your eyes, take a bite of the fruit, and chew it slowly. Notice the taste, the way your teeth feel on the fruit, the smell as it passes your lips and into your nose, the way it feels as it passes your teeth and into your throat. Even if you have eaten a thousand strawberries, taking time to eat one mindfully can feel like a discovery.
If that exercise whet your appetite, here are eight mindful eating books to help you develop a mindful eating practice. Some of these books borrow from Buddhist mindfulness practices but other are fully secular. Happy eating!
The Best Mindful Eating Books for Beginners
Savor Every Bite: Mindful Ways to Eat, Love Your Body, and Live with Joy by Lynn Rossy, PhD
Psychologist Lynn Rossy shows you how, by slowing down and paying attention to each bite, people can better tune into what they are experiencing in the moment and respond in more healthy ways. The book first walks through a series of stress-relieving exercises and then circles back to discuss the larger context of managing stress by integrating mindfulness into daily life. The author offers tips on how to how to honor your hunger and satiety cues on a daily basis, how to include others in mindfulness if you are living with others, and how to cope with setbacks both large and small.
The Mindful Eating Workbook: Simple Mindfulness Practices to Nurture a Healthy Relationship with Food by Vincci Tsui, RD
Vincci Tsui, a professional dietitian and certified Intuitive Eating counselor, offers a workbook to guide you through learning the principles of mindful eating. Each chapter has assessments, journal entries, and observation logs. The workbook explains the lifelong benefits of mindful eating and how to apply them to your life. The book teaches strategies to practice mindful eating while cooking and eating.
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book pairs simple meditations on eating with graceful black and white illustrations. There’s no detailed explanation of hunger or satiety here, but it offers great pearls like “Every spoonful contains the universe,” and other deeper ways of looking at how we eat food and sustain our well-being.
The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits by Judson Brewer
Don’t worry — if you can do without koans and other meditative prompts, there are also science-backed books like this one from Judson Brewer to walk you through the mindful eating basics. While Brewer explores all kinds of cravings (see title), I’ve found his advice and programs on how “surfing” cravings can make our relationship with food more mindful and enjoyable to be a game changer.
Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, PsyD
This is a comprehensive guide to all things mindful eating. It’s the perfect guide for beginners and pros alike, with information on reframing mindless eating and how to approach meals with purpose. Albers teaches how to recognize when you are hungry and when you have had enough. You will also learn how to recognize when your body’s signals are being distorted, and how a mindfulness approach can provide you with the tools you need to bring balance to your approach to food.
Eat Up!: Food, Appetite, and Eating What You Want by Ruby Tandoh
If you’re looking for a more essay-driven exploration of positive, mindful eating, Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh offers personal perspectives mixed deliciously with recipes in a collection that explores her relationship with food, the politics behind diet culture, and ways to take joy and pleasure in what you eat.
Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation by Dalia Kinsey, RD, LD
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Dalia Kinsey brings an intersectional approach to wellness and self care for BIPOC and LGTBQ readers. While much broader than mindful eating, Kinsey offers practices to bring joy to food and nourishment. The book offers journal prompts, affirmations, and mindfulness tools.
Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD
Harrison’s takedown of the billion dollar diet industry illuminates all the ways we are pressured to reject our bodies and assimilate to diet culture. The Anti-Diet proposes intuitive eating, a close cousin of mindful eating, as empowering way to reclaim a liberating relationship with food.
For more great books on mindfulness, check out our list of 15 of the Best Mindfulness Books.