One of the biggest causes of weight gain is due to overeating. Many times it is related to the quality of what we eat, but it’s also related to the quantity. Overeating, or eating more than we really need, can be easy to do when we’re not paying attention.
Focus on these strategies over the next week to be more mindful about what you’re eating and notice yourself eating less while feeling more satisfied.
1) Turn off the TV (and computer or phone)
Eating in front of the TV is now all too commonplace. We end the day burnt out and ready to veg. Or we don’t stop working and we are responding to e-mails or surfing social media on our phones at dinner. When we do this at meal times, our brain is not registering that we have eaten- it misses all the sensations that are a part of eating a meal. We then tend to overeat because our bodies don’t think we have eaten because we weren’t “present” for the experience. Many studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount of TV watched and weight. This is not just due to a sedentary lifestyle, but because more food than necessary is eaten when in front of the TV. Eat or watch TV- don’t do both simultaneously.
2) Savor- use your senses
Before you dig in, stop to examine your food. Express gratitude. Notice the smells and flavors you are consuming. Giving your brain a chance to deeply experience your meal will make you feel more satisfied than just eating for fuel. Meal time is a pleasurable experience- pause to enjoy it so that all of your senses are satisfied at the end of the meal- and not seeking more.
3) Put your fork down and chew your food.
After each bite- put your fork down. Chew your food 20 times before swallowing. Putting your fork down helps you to eat slower- rather then shoveling in bite after bite. Eating slower, means you are better able to register when you are full. Your body and brain will be in sync. When you eat fast, you don’t realize when you are full and tend to overeat- this makes for a very uncomfortable, and bloated feeling post-meal. Chewing your food prepares the enzymes to digest your food thoroughly while also slowing down your consumption. Extra chewing means less digestive distress after your meal.
4) Wait 20 minutes
After your meal- before reaching for another snack or dessert, wait for 20 minutes. Have a glass of water or hot tea. It can take time to realize you are full and you may not actually want that extra treat. Allow an opportunity to check in with yourself to see if you really do want more.
5) Check in 1-2 hours later
Do you feel satisfied and comfortable a couple of hours after your meal? Or do you feel bloated and tired? Think about what was included in your meal that might make you feel the way you do. Make mindful choices for your next meal that ensure you will feel your best. Ask yourself not just what you want at that moment, but also what is going to prepare you with the energy you need later in the day. If you recently switched to whole grains and more veggies, you may experience some initial discomfort as your body gets used to digesting essential fiber. Don’t get discouraged- your body will adjust after a few days/ weeks.
For more mindful eating strategies, check out this book.
Photo: Seoul 2007