In our busy, busy world, we rush from appointment to appointment, task to task, only stopping to eat in a rush. Eating like this can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being, and could potentially lead to weight gain.
It doesn’t have to be this way! You can nourish your body with clean, simple, healthy and tasty foods. But there’s more to it than just picking the right foods; how you eat them is important too.
I know this is easier said than done, but paying attention to your food will prevent mindless eating, as your body will recognize feelings of satiety, thus potentially preventing weight gain. Here are three of my favorite tips on how to eat more mindfully:
1. Give yourself time to eat.
I used to be guilty of rushing through my meals, but now I’m more conscious of chewing (instead of inhaling) my food. Studies have found that people who eat more slowly tend to consume fewer calories than fast eaters.
If you have trouble slowing down your eating, try chewing your food about 20 times before swallowing. Try to get in the habit of putting your utensils down between bites. Be the first person at the table to pick up your fork, and the last person to finish your meal. Take the time to pay attention to your food, breathe in the delicious smell of it and admire the way it looks.
2. Stop reading, watching TV, or checking out Instagram while you eat.
Have you found that if you eat while you work, you end up inhaling your food and not really tasting it? You look down and the food is gone, and all you’re left with is a strong urge for more, because you don’t really remember eating it. It happens, and studies have found that this sort of distracted eating can lead to overeating.
Try to approach your food differently: be present in the moment and give it your full attention. Eliminate distractions by leaving your desk, or having your meal in a peaceful place, like outdoors. Stop what you're doing. Step away from your work, and take the time to eat with intention. Distracted eating is a major contributor to unintentional overeating.
3. Stop eating before you’re full.
Stop eating when you feel satisfied, but not completely full. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable, and that feeling signifies that you ate more than you needed to.
Another good trick is eating off a smaller plate, dishing out your meal in the kitchen, and putting leftovers away before you start eating your dinner. That way you’re more reluctant to take them out for seconds.
4. Remember that eating with friends can lead to overeating.
One recent study has found that when we eat with other people, we consume, on average, 44% more food than we do when dining alone.
This is likely due to the influence of others around us, and how much and how fast they eat. We also tend to eat more food faster when in relaxed company than with people we don’t know well. Concentrate on your plate as well as the conversation around you, and pause between bites to give full attention to your dinner companions and to your meal!
When you eat mindfully, you just eat when you're hungry and as much as your body needs, which leads to better health and your optimal weight.