Eating mindfully plays an important role in weight management. Paying close attention to hunger and fullness cues helps to naturally regulate portion sizes. Due to a variety of factors, many people become disconnected from their natural hunger signals and other mindful eating techniques. Here are a few ways to become more in tune with hunger signals while learning to enjoy food.
- No screens. Scrolling through a phone, watching TV, or eating in front of the computer are all distractions. When we are focused on a screen, we are less likely to be paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. Avoiding screens during mealtime will encourage mindfulness and decrease overeating.
- Take small bites and chew them well. We often take large bites and then swallow before we have thoroughly chewed the food. Taking small bites and chewing well allows us to taste and appreciate the textures and flavors of food. These simple steps promote enjoying quality over quantity.
- Eat slowly. Small bites and chewing well can help, as can putting the fork down and pausing between bites. It takes 15 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full. Eating a meal in less than 15 minutes will not allow for true mindfulness.
- Eat when hungry. It is okay to honor hunger and fuel the body with nutritious foods: lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains. On the other hand, be attentive to not eat when not hungry. We may eat for a variety of reasons besides hunger: boredom, stress/sadness, situational influences (candy jars, parties, etc.). Find other ways to handle those situations that do not involve food.
- All foods can fit. No foods have to be viewed as ‘off limits’ or ‘bad.’ Slowing down, chewing slowly, and eating attentively all help promote maximum enjoyment from smaller portions of foods.
Nutritious food does not have to be boring! Boring, bland food should not be eaten just because we are ‘supposed to.’ Add flavor to food with citrus, vinegar, herbs and spices. Try new recipes, foods, and cooking methods. It is natural to enjoy food. Eat slowly and savor delicious flavors. Enjoy quality, not quantity!