Tips for mindful meals
With so many distractions in daily life, it’s easy to eat without much thought. One method to combat this is mindful eating.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing on the present — what you’re feeling or sensing in each moment — even while eating. Mindful eating also teaches you to follow hunger cues. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register the chemicals that let you know when you’re full. Slowing down helps your brain catch up, reducing the chance of overeating.
Put mindful eating into practice by:
- Assessing your hunger — Before you eat, ask yourself, 'How hungry am I right now? Am I eating out of hunger, or am I bored or stressed?' Think of a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is starving and 10 is stuffed. Aim to eat when you’re at a "3" (somewhat hungry, but not yet starving). When you’re managing emotions, try alternatives to food such as taking a walk.
- Making time for meals — If you’re eating on the run, you’re likely eating quickly and not enjoying your meal. Eating fast can also lead to unhealthy food choices. Slow yourself down by sitting at the table with a plate.
- Avoiding distraction — Turn off the TV and put away your phone, work and reading materials. Remind yourself that you’re taking time to focus and enjoy your food.
- Choosing modest portions — Take small bites and chew slowly. Before reaching for seconds, use the hunger scale. Stop eating when you’re at a "6" or a "7" (slightly full or satisfied, but not stuffed).
- Using all of your senses — Observe the smells, textures, sounds, colors and tastes of your meal. Set down your fork between bites and enjoy the company of any dining companions.
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