Mindless eating is a habit many of us have. In our busy lives, it’s easy to grab a handful of chips here, a couple cookies there, whatever is handy in the kitchen. In his book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” author Brian Wansink explores how Americans’ environments add to the problem. We have big kitchens, usually eat off big plates, and typical packaging holds more food than those in other countries. It creates a norm that means we tend to eat until we’re full — often more than full — rather than until we’re no longer hungry. And the problem is that all those extra calories add up, and over the years, can add several inches to our waistline.
The key to lasting success is to change our relationship with food. And the key to doing that is to create an environment that supports mindful eating. Mindful eating means being fully present in the moment and noticing the smell, texture and taste of your food so you can listen to your body and observe when it’s satisfied. Mindful eating can help you stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, rather than when you’re full.
Below are 7 ways to eat mindfully and improve your relationship with food and practice mindful eating.
1) Buy smaller quantities or snack-size.
Buying in bulk can be great for feeding your big family, but it’s not so great for maintaining a healthy balance in your kitchen. Choose food with less packaging, such as buying snack-size packs of popcorn instead of full-size bags. This can help ensure you’re only eating the exact amount of calories you intend to, rather than munching mindlessly.
2) Use smaller plates.
Our eyes take visual cues from the size of the dinnerware we’re using. Instead of using a large, standard dinner plate, place your meal on a small- or medium-sized plate. This will help naturally control for portion size and help your eyes tell your stomach when you’re no longer hungry.
3) Set a favorable mood during meal time.
Turn off the TV and turn on some soft music. Dim the lights if you can, and sit down at the table to eat, rather than on the couch. Commit a certain length of time to the meal, such as 20 minutes, and eat slowly, aiming to finish your meal at the end of the 20 minutes.
4) Savor each bite.
By slowing down, you can give your mind ample time to react to the smell, texture and flavor of your meal. This not only enhances its enjoyability, but also triggers your stomach to feel fuller faster. Notice the smell before you taste it. Chew slowly, focusing on the way the food feels in your mouth. Is it soft? Hard? Chewy? Crunchy? And of course, notice every layer of spiciness, sweetness and savoriness.
5) Set your kitchen up for success.
Your cupboards and refrigerator don’t always have to be packed to the brim. Get rid of the junk food and keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods only, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and snacks like popcorn and nuts.
6) Eat on your own schedule.
Just because the world tells you to eat lunch at 12 p.m. doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, your body might have its own internal clock that cues it to eat at times that are out of the societal norm. And that’s more than okay. Listen to your body. When does it tell you it’s hungry? When it does, eat — and do so mindfully.
7) Consider a food plan with pre-portioned meals.
Portion control is one of the most critical elements to healthy eating. As Americans, we tend to eat huge portions when dining at a restaurant or cooking ourselves. One way to combat that is to learn about proper portion size with a healthy meal delivery company that does the work for you.
Diet-to-Go is one great option to do just that. All chef-crafted, delicious meals are carefully controlled for calories and portion size, and can not only help you meet your weight loss goals*, but also show you what a proper meal size should look like long term. Get started and view sample menus here.
Do you have a trick for eating mindfully? Share it in the comments below!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.