Mindful Eating

by David Egan

healthy eating & weight loss

Do you feel the need to clear your plate at every meal? Do you eat your food quickly? These habits can lead to over-eating and weight gain

Most of us are programmed to finish the food that is on our plate. We’ve been brainwashed since childhood into a fear of wasting food, and the meal isn’t over until the plate is clean. To make matters worse, most of us eat too quickly – we bolt our food down as if it’s our last meal and we eat “on the go”- too busy to sit and eat properly.

These habits lead to over-eating and weight-gain. Our body tells us that we’re full, but we don’t notice because our brain is saying “clear the plate!”, or we’re too busy concentrating on something other than the food in front of us.

Luckily you can take simple measures to help you eat more mindfully. If you pay attention to what you are eating, rather than just mindlessly ploughing through your food, you’ll be less likely to over-eat.

Before Eating

Only start eating WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. This may sound simplistic, but many of us eat out of habit, or at the slightest feeling of hunger. Hunger is not something to be feared – it is a natural feeling, and you shouldn’t seek food every time you are hungry. On the other hand, don’t wait until you are over-hungry – as you’ll be more likely to overeat.

  • Never eat while standing up – always sit down to eat
  • Allow yourself at least 30 minutes to eat your main meals – set that time aside and do not rush
  • Put your food on a plate – do not eat food from the pan or straight from the worktop or the toaster
  • Do not over-fill your plate – leave 10% of your food off your plate and your stomach won’t even notice
  • Always have a glass of water with your meal
  • For main meals, set the table (knife, fork and glass of water)
  • Before you start eating, sit and take a few deep breaths
  • Take a sip from a glass or bottle of water before eating

While You Are Eating

  • Decide which bit of your meal looks the best, and eat that food first – don’t save it for last as you will be more likely to mindlessly plough through your food and eat more than you need.
  • Don’t slouch – sit up straight while you are eating
  • When you put food into your mouth, put your fork down and concentrate on the food in your mouth
  • Chew your food carefully before swallowing – enjoy the taste and texture of the food
  • Chew every mouthful of food
  • Swallow slowly – don’t gulp air with your food
  • Don’t talk whilst eating
  • Halfway through your meal, take a break for at least 2 minutes – sip water, and try to work out how much more food you will need to be full
  • If you start to feel full, STOP EATING
  • You DO NOT have to clear your plate – if you are full, stop eating

After Eating

When you are finished your meal, push your plate away immediately. Throw the remaining food away or carefully store it out of sight – ready for your next meal. Remember that you can eat again when you are hungry.

General Rules

Don’t be distracted while eating as you’ll be more likely to over-eat.

  • Never eat whilst watching TV
  • Don’t eat whilst driving
  • Don’t eat whilst talking or texting on the phone
  • Don’t eat whilst walking

Summary

  • Get ready to eat mindfully: Only eat when hungry, take a few deep breaths before eating, allow enough time to eat your meal and always sit down to eat
  • Eat Mindfully: Chew every mouthful, eat the tastiest looking food first, take breaks during your meal, sip water during your meal and stop eating when you are full
  • After your meal: Throw away or store any excess food, take some deep breaths and notice how full you feel
  • Remember that you can eat again when you are hungry

If you’re in the Shannon area and need help with weight loss, find out more about our services: contact us or give us a call on 087 930 7575.

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