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How to Practice Mindful Eating

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The world is full of distractions, whether your phone is buzzing or your DVR is overflowing with a backlog of New Girl. While the second you sit down to eat might seem like the perfect opportunity to catch up on these things, it actually might be better to do just the opposite.

Instead, it’s time to start practicing mindful eating, remaining fully aware as you eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner — even your snacks. It’s worth the effort, too. Studies have shown that distracted eating can cause overeating, over-ingestion of sugar and obesity — among other side effects.

So turning off your devices and paying attention to what and how much you eat can lead to a lower body weight and a heightened sense of well-being. It is worth it, so here are some tips for how to do it:

Eat Slower

Anyone who has grown up with multiple siblings probably learned to eat fast or forego access to seconds. The only problem is that dining as fast as possible doesn’t give your body the opportunity to digest quickly enough to tell you you’re full. Instead, you’re likely to end up eating until the point your brain catches up with your stomach. By then, the “you’re full” message will come too late and you’ll have overeaten.

Break the cycle by chewing slowly and really savoring the flavors of each and every bite. The experience will be more satisfying, which makes it even more likely you’ll eat less than usual.

Turn off the Sound

The world is noisy. Try and devote at least one daily meal or snack time to complete in total silence. Going quiet will give you the opportunity to focus everything on what you’re eating.

While this practice may be tough if you’re in a house with kids, you can still get them in on the action. Try a game that encourages them to remain quiet for two minutes, or no talking until a certain food on their plate is eaten all the way. If a full-fledged meal isn’t ideal for silence, try sitting down with a healthy snack during the day when you might be able to be by yourself.

When you can get it, quiet mealtime can be used for quiet thought and reflection, which helps you in a number of additional ways. It can diffuse stress and help you make clearer decisions, and it’s a principle that can be applied in other areas of life, to boot.

Source Your Spread

It may sound crazy, but you can have respect for the food on your plate, and knowing where your food came from is one way to build this respect. Instead of buying your ingredients at the local big-box grocery store, check out a farmer’s market and find out just how the food was grown.

You could also try your hand at growing your own spices, veggies and fruits to use in the meals you make. Something as simple as understanding exactly where your food came from, how long it took to grow and the harvesting process, can have you feeling super proud to be chowing down — and super eager to savor every single bite. Frozen meals, you’ve got nothing on this.

If You Must

We understand TV time is probably something you look forward to all day long as you’re slaving away at the office. If you must eat while you veg out in front of the TV, be careful in choosing the program you’ll watch.

Studies have shown that an action series cause viewers to eat 98 percent more than those who watch a talk show instead. Action sequences inspire eaters to try and keep up with what’s happening in the show.

A dramatic series can cause viewers to eat 55 percent more than those who watch lighter-themed shows, as emotional triggers often promote overeating. So, if you must turn on the TV, try and find, say, an upbeat talk show. Jimmy Fallon, anyone?
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to eat every meal in a quiet place with full and clear focus on just the plate in front of you. If you carve out time to enjoy just a few meals in this way, though, you might find mealtime to be even more special than it already is — and you’ll feel better, too. All you have left to do is lift your fork and dig in.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Nicole January 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Great tips Jennifer! I love sitting down with my family for meals. I think it’s a great way to slow down and connect with one another. I love the idea of respecting the food on your plate. That’s something I’m focusing on this year. Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply Jennifer January 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks, Nicole! I know it’s easier said than done – but I am all about family meal time! I look forward to a time when my baby girl eats more than goldfish crackers again, though. 🙂

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