Although what you eat is important, new studies are beginning to pay attention to the importance of how you eat.
Results are positive and encouraging, emphasizing the importance of practicing mindful eating during meals and snacks. One study showed that mindfulness increased enjoyment of pleasurable foods like chocolate and also led to lower-calorie consumption of unhealthy foods. Another indicated that snack intake after a meal was approximately 30% less for people who ate mindfully, versus those who were distracted while eating. There is also evidence to indicate the importance of eating slower, with studies showing that a slower eating rate was associated with a lower calorie intake. One study questioned what leads people to increase their portion sizes of food. It revealed that lack of self-control over food cues (like hunger) and also distracted eating were top reasons people might go back for seconds.
So what does all this mean? In a nutshell, when you get rid of distractions (like your phone or TV or work), sit down at a table, and eat food slowly… you tend to eat less! Eating food slowly and mindfully allows you to recognize when you’re full and satisfied, and helps to stop you from overeating.
Some people think this is easier said than done, so here are some steps to help you practice and learn to eat more mindfully.
- Always try to sit down at a table to eat.
- Before you sit, clear any clutter that may be on the table.
- Set a place for yourself, even if you’re eating alone.
- Use tableware and utensils that appeal to you.
- Take a moment to adjust the lighting so it feels pleasant to you.
- Considering playing some soft music while you eat.
- Try to minimize multi-tasking while eating.
As with any new goal, take it in baby steps. Aim to eat mindfully for perhaps one
meal per day and increase from there. Eventually you’ll find yourself enjoying the peace, quiet, and taste of your food more.