Dietitian Catherine Saxelby shares five tips to help you slow down and eat more mindfully. Mindful eating has multiple benefits, including fine-tuning your hunger and fullness cues for healthy weight management, and making meals more enjoyable.
Do you bolt your food down or multi-task while eating? If you struggle with managing your weight, maybe it’s not what you’re eating but how.
1 Take time to sit down
We live in a world where we are always rushing. Force yourself to stop, sit down and devote 15 to 20 minutes to eating, so that it becomes a relaxing, pleasurable experience. Don’t eat with your hands (like a burger) but use a plate, fork and knife. Eat slowly, putting down the cutlery between mouthfuls.
2 Don’t be distracted
Put the mobile out of sight, walk away from your desk and switch off all electronic devices within earshot. This forces you to focus your full attention on what you’re eating. Also, be careful not to fall into the habit of eating when you’re driving or at the movies. This only sets the scene for mindless or distracted eating later on.
3 Appreciate every bite
Eating is a sensory experience, involving smell, sight, touch and taste. Take them all in to help you savour the flavour, and make sure you’re hungry before you start eating.
4 Think quality over quantity
Have a range of colourful, fresh whole foods on your plate from all the food groups to ensure that your meal is nutrient-rich and nutritionally balanced. This means that every bite counts and there won’t be any excuse to overeat.
5 Stop when you’re full
Listen to your stomach and stop eating when you feel comfortably full — but not stuffed. Don’t feel pressured to finish a meal — store the leftovers for the next day or share with a friend.
The bottom line
Start today. Practise these five steps when you can devote time to eating alone. It might be harder when you’re with others, especially little children. Once you do them often enough, though, they become a habit.