For many people, it’s incredibly easy to eat without paying much attention to portion control, feelings of fullness or even flavour after the first few bites. Often, this is because we’re concentrating on other tasks — from watching TV while snacking, to eating lunch at our desks.
Overeating can lead to weight gain over time, especially if you are not burning those extra calories. To combat this tendency, the Doc suggests a few simple tips that can help with weight loss but also provides many other benefits too.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about changing your eating habits to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating. It’s about knowing the difference between true hunger cues and non-hunger triggers for eating.
If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much. By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. This will also help you know the difference between emotional eating and eating because you’re hungry.
Binge eating, emotional eating or eating in response to a food craving have been linked to weight gain.
Changing the way you think about food, and being aware of your emotions, will help improve your self control and positive emotions.
How to practice mindful eating?
There are many simple ways to start changing your ways to eat mindfully. The Doc recommends:
Paying Attention: Being aware while eating, sounds simple, but can significantly can help derail snacking without thinking habits. Eat mindfully with intention and attention on the food that you are about to enjoy will help you feel better when you’re finished.
Ask yourself why you’re eating: Mindful eating can help you break free from old automatic habits and reacting to emotional triggers. Whenever you feel like eating, pause to ask yourself whether you are really hungry. Try drinking a glass of water and wait before you begin eating.
Eliminate distractions: It’s hard to be present if your mind is focussing on something besides your food and you don’t realise things like whether the food was actually good or whether you are getting full. This often leads to over eating. Try turning off the TV and putting down your phone before eating.
Chew thoroughly: Your body’s subtle full cue is easier when you take smaller bites at a slower pace. Try chewing your food thoroughly to help slow down your eating pace and help reduce the number of calories you take in.
Look at your food: Think of it as using all your senses to eat. Being mindful of how things like aroma, mouthfeel, and food presentation can influence how much we eat can help increase the satisfaction we get from a meal and also prevent overeating. Try looking at your food and smelling it to help stimulate the digestive system and get your body ready to be able to better process the incoming nourishment.
Portion sizes: Our homes are filled with hidden eating traps, and simply being aware of something as simple as the size of a bowl can influence how much you eat. Try eating off salad plates instead of large dinner plates to help you understand your portion size to succeed than willpower alone.
How you eat your food is just as important as what type of foods you eat when it comes to maintaining your weight. Practising these small changes every day can help you choose healthier foods, eat only when you’re actually hungry and reduce the likelihood of overeating.