On Tuesday we talked about the types of hunger and the first 3 tips for eating mindfully. Today we will continue the discussion and finish with the remaining 5 tips. If you remember from Part 1, eating mindfully does not have to be a complex concept and simply by taking the time to focus on our hunger levels and what we're eating we can really begin to understand the whole eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full concept.
We’ve all seen those comparison shots of plate sizes from the 1950s versus plate sizes now (but just incase you haven't, see here). We know that portion sizes in both restaurants and at home have gotten much bigger in the past 50 years but did you know that by eating on smaller dishes we can actually feel just as full even if we're eating less? I challenge you to eat your main meals off of lunch-sized plates rather than the oversized dinner plates. The psychological impact of looking at a plate that appears fuller will make us feel more satisfied than eating the same amount of food on an oversized plate.
Eating from a box or a bag is a definite no-no if we are trying to eat mindfully. When we eat from a box or a bag we have no concept of how much we are truly eating and often will continue to eat until the box or bag is empty. I recommend putting a serving of the food you're eating onto a plate or into a bowl and return the package to the fridge or pantry before you begin eating. Don't leave the bag or package on the counter either - it is too accessible. There is a lot of thought that has to go into getting up from the table (where you should be eating) and getting the bag back out again. Within this time frame you will have more opportunity to ask yourself if you're truly hungry.
Next time you’re eating a meal, make a conscious effort to put down your fork or spoon between each bite. By actively putting down your spoon or fork you are forced to slow down. It’s true that it takes approximately 20 minutes for our bodies to recognize that we are feeling satisfied from the food we’re eating so by increasing the amount of time it takes for us to finish our meal we are less likely to go back for a second helping of dinner or indulge in a sweet treat after our meal.
This is a trap that so many of us fall into. We fill our plate or are served food and we feel satisfied before the food is gone however we continue to eat until our plate is cleaned. Even if we know we have eaten enough food we will continue to eat until all of the food put in front of us is gone. In order to get away from this bad habit, that most of the time was developed at a young age, we need to become okay with packing food up for a later time. This even applies to the three leftover bites that we know we didn’t need. Give yourself permission to be finished eating even if you have food remaining on your plate. I hear this a lot from my clients regarding leftover holiday treats/birthday cake/Halloween candy/etc. They will have leftover Christmas cookies made by a loved one that are full of processed sugar and they refuse to throw them away because it is "wasteful". We need to think of this - foods that provide us with no real nutritional benefit are garbage if it goes into our mouths and garbage if it goes into the garbage can. You would be doing starving children a disservice by feeding them sugar-filled processed foods - so why should we keep them sitting on our counter tempting us for the next month?
How many times do you chew your food before swallowing? Crazy question, right? What if you thought about the number of times you chew before swallowing at each meal? This will force you to slow down and will also help with the digestive process. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food well will allow your body to extract more nutrients from your food and will also make it less likely that you will experience cramps, bloating or indigestion from a meal. Not only will chewing your food more be better for digestion but we also have to remember that our taste buds are located in our mouth, so it is when we are chewing that we get to experience the wonderful flavor that our food provides us with. I recommend shooting for chewing food as close to 30 times as you possibly can.
This rounds up the 8 tips for increasing mindfulness while you're eating. Select one or more of the above tips and give them a try this week. Did you notice a difference? Leave your comments or questions below 🙂
Yours in Health,
*Note: If you feel like you would benefit a program targeted at understanding why you crave the foods you do, check out a Craving Change™ facilitator near you.
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