By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
Want to feel more satisfied after meals? You can, if you put your mind to it.
Eating mindfully, which can mean everything from simply noticing what you’re putting in your mouth to practicing stress reduction techniques to help end stress eating, can really help. When you become a more mindful eater, you savor, enjoy, and remember fondly each bite and sip of your meal. The end result: You’ll feel more satisfied and less likely to rummage around for more food.
In a recent University of Southern California review of 21 mindful eating studies, 18 of them helped improve in eating habits, cut calorie intake, and reduced bingeing.
There are entire books on the subject, so I won’t attempt to cover every aspect. Instead, here are my top five strategies; they work for me—and have helped people who’ve come to me for nutritional counseling.
- Identify why you’re eating or drinking. Is it because you’re actually hungry? (Rating your hunger for a week can be an eye-opener.) Or are you eating because you’re bored, stressed, or have another emotional trigger? Is it just habit (as in “I always have a 3 p.m. snack.)? Name the reason without judgment or guilt; these negative emotions can stress you out, driving you to overeat even more.
- Get your hand out of the bag. If you eat from a big bag of pretzels, candy or other treat, or drink your chocolate milk or soda from a large container, you can’t tell how much you’ve consumed. Being mindful means minding portions. Portion out what’s appropriate and put the container out of sight!
- Focus on your food. If possible, step away from your desk (at the very least look away from your computer monitor), turn off the TV, get off the phone, put down your magazine, place the baby in the playpen and turn all your attention to your food.
- Savor and enjoy. Note the taste, smell, texture and other attributes of your food or beverage. Like a food critic or wine connoisseur, think of adjectives to describe it.
- Take your time. Chew thoroughly, put your fork or spoon down between bites, stretch out the meal or snack. In addition to more fully experiencing it, this has another helpful side effect: You’ll start feeling full before you eat too many calories.
What mindful eating strategies do you use?