Do you ever find yourself just eating for no apparent reason? You’re not hungry, you’re bored, you’re nervous or anxious about something, you have food in front of you, or you just don’t have anything else to do?
Many of us are trying to maintain a healthful diet and consciously taking time to have healthful food available. For some, it takes practice to eat and enjoy food. Too often we are in such a hurry, or that we eat ‘just because’ and lose the sense of the true taste of food, and over indulge in fat, sugars and sodium. By being mindful of what we are eating and how much we are eating, we can shift towards a healthier diet. The following mindful eating tips can help you build a healthier lifestyle:
- Have healthful foods available. At home, take time to plan meals and have the food on hand for those choices. If you plan your food, you will likely save money as compared to stopping at the last minute at convenience stores or picking up deli or takeout food. Research shows that home prepared meals contain fewer calories and less sodium and fat than compared to convenience meals or eating out.
- Take time to enjoy your meal or snack. When we are in a hurry and stuffing food in, we tend to eat too much food and our receptors don’t have time to let us know that we are full before we are bursting at the belt. When eating, take time to truly taste food and stop eating when you first feel full. This will help you control the amount you eat and helps prevent overeating. Try to make meals last at least 15 to 20 minutes. This may take some practice. Being sure that you are not too hungry also helps to slow down eating. It’s helpful to plan snacks as mini-meals so that you don’t have that ravished feeling at meals.
- Pay attention to what you eat. A whole bag of chips or cookies may disappear quickly if you are not aware of what you are doing. This can happen easily when watching television, socializing, or using electronics such as the computer of video games. Try portioning out the appropriate serving size or keeping food out of sight or out of reach.
- Evaluate your stressors. We each have our own habits and likely we know our down falls. For some, stress causes over eating while for others stress causes us not to eat properly. For those who eat during stressful periods, consider finding another outlet for your anxiety, or maybe have some healthful foods which are low in calories to munch on. For those who tend not eat during stressful times, have some healthful food readily available so that it makes the healthy choice the easy choice when the cravings appear and when it does come to meals you don’t do the opposite and over eat.
Mindful eating is a journey of making a conscious effort to choose and control the amount of food you eat. By practicing mindfully eating, we can improve our overall dietary profile and help to maintain our weight, or for some, lose weight. To help you plan meals and make good food choices ChooseMyPlate has some great tools.