By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
Mindful eating focuses more on how to eat than what to eat. Eating mindfully means being fully present and aware when you eat. Too often we eat mindlessly – distracted by the television, standing in front of the refrigerator nibbling while deciding what to make for dinner, or triggered to eat when we’re not hungry just by the sight of food. By being mindful when we eat, it’s often possible to be satisfied with less food because we’ve really enjoyed the food we’ve eaten rather than just mindlessly gobbling it down.
What to Do:
- Look carefully at the food before you start to eat. Notice the appearance, texture and smell. Think about the journey it took to reach you. Be conscious that you’re about to eat something, and know that you’re nourishing yourself.
- Create a special place and routine for dining. Try to eat most of your meals and snacks in a specific place (like your kitchen table) and really try to avoid eating while standing up or in the car or in other parts of the house.
- Even if you’re eating alone, have a special placemat and create an attractive environment that is conducive to you being more mindful.
- Assess your level of hunger on a scale of 1-10 (1 being really stuffed – and 10 being starving) before you eat. Aim to keep your hunger levels between 4-7 so you don’t risk eating when you’re not hungry – or overeating when you’re famished.
- Avoid distracting eating such as eating while watching TV or on the phone. We often mindless munch while distracted and before we know it the bag of chips is gone. Try eating a meal in silence to see if it’s easier to be more conscious of your food.
- Whenever possible, do not eat out of the bag or serving dish. For example, instead of eating chips out of the large bag, put the serving you’re planning to eat on a plate or in a bowl. Put the bag away and sit down to enjoy your helping. This can really help you avoid mindless eating!
- Eat more slowly. Aim to chew each bite at least 15 times. Pay attention to the flavor with each bite and how it may change the longer you chew. Enjoy the flavors. Consider using chopsticks or eating with your non-dominant hand to really help you slow down.
- After each bite of food is swallowed, pause before the next bite is taken.
- Stay hydrated between meals. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to ensure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. This can make it easier to resist mindless snacking between meals.
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