Mindful eating vs. intuitive eating: What's the difference?

Eating well is more than choosing foods and portion sizes.
Mindful eating vs. intuitive eating: What's the difference?
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Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Caley Scott, ND

At Sunmed, we think the best way to eat is the way that makes you feel your best — regardless of the details of your diet. That’s why we’re taking a step back and looking at frameworks of eating: mindful and intuitive eating. Both approaches have their own merits, and you can combine both to build a better relationship with food and your health in general.

But what exactly do we mean by mindful and intuitive eating, and how do these two approaches differ in practice and results? Let’s look at these frameworks from a new perspective and see how you can incorporate them to enjoy food in a healthy, sustainable way.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is an approach that takes the principles of mindfulness and applies them to your daily relationship with food, regardless of your dietary strategy.

At its core, mindful eating is based on awareness and presence, two ideas you’re likely familiar with if you’ve done mindfulness meditation and breath work. But instead of sitting still and focusing on your breath, you’re giving that attention and awareness to your food and how you feel while eating.

It sounds simple at the surface, but consider this — how often are you truly present in the moment while eating a meal or snack? If you’re a busy professional or parent, you’re probably in the habit of multitasking while eating, meaning your attention is entirely elsewhere. While it seems convenient to eat for maximum efficiency, we pay the price long-term with poor food choices, digestion issues, and many other problems.

Mindful eating offers a refreshing new perspective on how we eat and the proper attention we give the entire process. From choosing items and preparing them to chewing, digestion, and absorption, the mindful approach sets you up for a healthier, more beneficial relationship with your food — even if you’re on the clock. 

Here are some practical tips to make mindful eating a part of your daily routine:

Set aside some time to eat

If life is non-stop and you’re always eating on the go, your first step is to slow down and make time for your food. Don’t worry — five minutes to sit down with a meal isn’t going to derail your entire day. If anything, this approach will require to you be smarter about time management, and your improved eating habits will pay you back with greater health and happiness.

If you can manage, take time away from your desk to focus only on your food while you eat. Better yet, take your food outside and enjoy the benefits of fresh air as you savor each bite. This focus will aid digestion, keep your body balanced, and allow you to feel more full when you return to your task list.

Find mental space to enjoy your food

Mindful eating starts by setting aside time to eat, but it’s the mental space you create that matters even more. Before you dig in, try to clear your head of thoughts about work, stress, and your personal life. This way, it’s just you and your food, with no other distractions or thoughts that can interfere with your enjoyment.

This approach makes it easier to fully chew each bite of food, and your body will no longer be in the “fight or flight” mode that sometimes makes digestion difficult. By carving out time and mental space to eat each meal, you’ll see what mindful eating really means, and your relationship with food will inevitably improve.

Create a connection with what you eat

When was the last time you really sat and savored each bite of food, thinking about the taste, texture, aroma, and visual cues that accompany a good meal? These are all aspects of nourishment that get overlooked when we are rushing around and eating impulsively. 

As you form a deeper connection with your food, you’ll find that each bite tastes better and you get more mileage from the energy it gives your body. This is especially important when dieting, as mindful eating lets you enjoy meals you previously thought were less appealing, such as “diet foods” that align with your goals.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is another eating framework that emphasizes removing judgment and guilt that comes with certain foods. Eating has a major emotional component for many of us, and this is the root of many unhealthy relationships with food. By getting to the root of these issues and viewing foods as neither good nor bad, you can start to rebuild positive eating habits that benefit you long term.

With intuitive eating, we aim to do away with the idea of food as a punishment or reward for our behaviors. It gets to the core of why so many diets fail; the foundation of the relationship is based on the false idea that we “earn” or “deserve” certain foods.

At the same time, intuitive eating focuses on nourishment and energy rather than the physical pleasure or escape we experience when eating. This approach changes how you see certain foods and helps you discover ways of eating that are both enjoyable and healthy for the mind and body.

Not sure how intuitive eating works in practice? Here are some ideas to try:

Don’t buy into fad diets

It’s time to say goodbye to the strict and rigid ways of eating we see on social media or read in articles. While there are certainly some positives to strict diets, they often backfire when we feel restricted or punished for going outside the lines of acceptable eating.

Intuitive eating flips the idea of dieting on its head, allowing you to form a healthier connection with food instead of denying yourself or forcing yourself to consume a short list of “acceptable” items. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean cookies and ice cream for every meal — the goal is to find a beneficial middle ground where you can enjoy your favorites occasionally while still progressing on your long-term goals and overall well-being.

Pay attention to how food makes you feel

True intuitive eating goes beyond expanding your idea of good and bad foods. It also emphasizes the feelings that certain foods give you, requiring you to pay closer attention to taste, digestion, energy levels, mood, and more.

For many of us, we stop thinking about food the moment we clear it off the plate. Intuitive eating challenges this by encouraging a deeper relationship with the food after consumption. After all, nobody can tell you how certain foods make you feel, and we all have different physical attributes and metabolisms that affect our responses.

Some people do better with higher amounts of sugar in a diet, while others feel energized on low-carb or raw veggies. Don’t blindly trust an influencer on how certain foods make you feel. Only you can be the judge of that, so pay closer attention and start fresh with a new perspective on what you eat daily.

Balance movement with eating

Movement and eating are two sides of the same coin. Food is fuel, so be sure to utilize that energy in a positive way that lets you get more enjoyment from your nutrients. This doesn’t mean you become a high-level athlete or run a daily 5K — just more movement throughout the day can help you build a better relationship with food and how you feel overall.

Intuitive eating involves all aspects of health, from work and play to sleep and emotional outlook. Take all these things into account and use food as a way to get more out of life as a whole — not the other way around.

What tools can you use to improve your approach to eating?

You can see how mindful eating and intuitive eating go hand in hand, and both are necessary for the big-picture mastery of nutrition and health. But what other tools can help you manage things like appetite, satiety, and consistency in long-term applications of these concepts?

Sunmed’s lineup of Trim products offers a new, natural way to manage appetite with a unique proprietary cannabinoid blend called NITRO-V. This blend contains THCV and CBDV — types of THC and CBD that help support proper feelings of hunger and fullness in order to maintain a healthy weight. NITRO-V can be a powerful boost as you adjust your approach to food and get more in tune with a mindful, intuitive framework of eating.*

Our Trim products also contain apple cider vinegar to aid digestion, and turmeric that supports metabolism and cell health with antioxidants. These ingredients work synergistically to keep your body resistant to stress and cravings while properly assimilating and utilizing every calorie you consume. 

We know that mindful and intuitive eating might not come naturally at first, especially if you have a less-than-healthy history with food. Products like our Full Spectrum Trim Gummies or Soft Gel Capsules can offer that extra boost you need to begin again with reduced cravings and a positive approach to eating.* 

The bottom line

Mindful and intuitive eating share many similarities, and you can apply the principles as you see fit based on your own priorities and personal challenges. For many, the liberation from a particular diet or restriction is enough to spark inspiration and look at food in a whole new light. For others, a mindful approach might be what you need to enjoy food again with presence of mind, something that is often missing in our modern world.

With a fresh perspective on eating and some help from Sunmed, you can make food a positive part of your daily routine, enhancing quality of life and well-being. From our point of view, that’s the way it should be.


What’s the Difference Between Mindful and Intuitive Eating? | Food Insight

The Influence of Mindful Eating and/or Intuitive Eating Approaches on Dietary Intake: A Systematic Review | NIH

Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat | NIH

10 principles of intuitive eating | British Heart Foundation