I just ate a container of yogurt but I don’t remember eating it. I was reading the newspaper at the same time. Have you ever done that? How about sitting down in front of the TV with a bag of chips and eating half the bag or that tub of popcorn at the movies or a sandwich in front of the computer and not remember doing it? I thought so.
In this day of digital communication, multi-tasking is my middle name. Phone in hand I can talk, email and eat at the same time. However, multitasking is a bad thing when we throw a meal into the cue. This is because when we eat without much awareness to the meal we usually eat way too much, we don’t listen to the “fullness” cues and we usually want to eat again–sooner. The end result…weight gain.
One of the ways I stay on track with my own well being as well as my weight is by being a mindful eater. Mindful eating doesn’t mean chewing your food a gazillion times before swallowing or eating just when you’re hungry.
Mindful eating is eating with intention AND attention. It’s eating with the intention of caring for yourself and also eating without distraction. Its being aware of how you feel and how the food tastes. When you do this you’ll be smarter about portion sizes and you’ll be enjoying your food so much more that you will be satisfied with less. You’ll also learn to recognize the “non-hunger” reasons why you eat—like boredom, stress or just habit (i.e. in front of the TV). I know… hard to believe until you try it. So here’s how to get started….
#1 Eat without Distractions
When you eat, do just that– eat. Don’t read the paper, look at your phone, don’t watch TV or do anything else while you sit down for a meal. Try closing your eyes next time you’re eating and notice how the food tastes. Focus on the texture and the flavor. You’ll begin to appreciate each bite. Let your brain register what you are eating. I promise you’ll feel fuller faster and for longer. Plus, you won’t need so much food.
#2 Put Down the Fork
I won’t lie, this part isn’t easy. Especially if you are a speed eater like me. I had to have Eric help me with this one. He reminds me. Habits die hard. In the past, I was often done with my meal before he was even half way through his. So now I pace myself to match with his slower style. The outcome? I am not reaching for seconds anymore.
#3 Eat with your Stomach in Mind
How big is your stomach? Put your two fists together and that’s about it. I know… hard to believe. If you eat too much more than that at one sitting, you may be eating too much. The big bummer here is you should probably stop eating after the appetizer. But if you eat slower with “attention” on the meal, really tasting each bite that appetizer just may be all you want and need.
So let’s work on being more mindful eaters together. It doesn’t happen overnight and you have to WANT to do it. The payback is really great because it also involves recognition of your non-hunger triggers for eating and learning to meet your other needs (like boredom or stress) in more effective ways. But it also involves choosing food for both enjoyment and nourishment. That’s what I like! Eating for fun, satisfaction and satiety is the name of the game. Let’s use food to live the vibrant life we were made for!