Katie's Healthy Bites: Mindful Eating



eating salad

Photo by: YanLev


When I meet with clients, I always talk about mindful eating. Mindful eating is the exact opposite of eating while driving, watching TV, gobbling the leftovers on your kid’s plates and taking a nibble every time you walk into the kitchen or pass a plate of goodies.

Instead, think before you put that second cookie or extra helping of pasta on your plate. Use these tips to become more mindful of what you eat to prevent overeating and help form a healthy relationship with food.

Why We Eat

It's important to consider why we need to eat (to nourish our bodies and provide energy and sustenance) as well as identify the other reasons we often eat (because we are bored, sad, anxious, we have company over, traditions, it tastes so good, etc).

How to Eat Mindfully

The best way to avoid overeating? Listen to your body. The next time you eat, take the time to ask yourself, "Am I hungry, or just bored, tired, thirsty, sad, (insert emotion)?" Only eat if you feel hungry. Then follow these simple steps:

  • Do a body scan. Are you relaxed? How does your stomach feel? Full? Empty? Tight?  It's easier to digest food and be mindful when you are relaxed.
  • Choose a smaller plate. When dishing out your meal, use a salad or appetizer plate.  If you are a "clean your plate" person, this is a good tool to decrease serving sizes.
  • Create a peaceful environment. Don’t eat in front of the TV, while driving, while on the phone, at your desk, etc. Make time to have a few meals completely solo and free of distractions so you can really be mindful of the above points.
  • Chew your food. When is the last time you thought about how many times you chewed each bite and what each bite actually tastes like?
  • Slow down. Put your fork down between bites, take a sip of water, use chop sticks...whatever it takes, eat slowly instead of scarfing down a meal.
  • Know when to stop. As you eat, rate your hunger using a scale of 1-10. If 1 is famished and 10 is full-to-bursting, stop eating at around a 5. Be mindful that satiated = nourished and full meals you've overeaten.
  • Leave food on your plate. If you've reached a 5, it's okay to leave a little food on your plate.
  • Wait for seconds. If you clean your plate, wait 15 minutes before you go back for seconds.
TELL US: What tricks or tips do you use to help you be more mindful of your eating?

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie's full bio »

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