Managing hunger and establishing healthy eating habits can be tricky! Not every strategy will work for every situation, the nutrition experts at Macros Inc. has curated the following list of 10 tips and tricks that have helped us and our clients. By implementing a few of these practices in your daily meals, you should quickly see how mindful eating can help increase satiety and keep you on track.
1. Before Eating, Ask Yourself Some Basic Questions
And be honest with yourself! We can oftentimes find ourselves eating for the wrong reasons – whether that’s for an emotional reason, or another physical reason entirely. Here are some good questions to ask yourself before you make yourself some food or a snack:
- Am I actually hungry?
- Am I thirsty?
- Am I just bored?
- Am I eating as a way to cope with an emotion?
A lot of times we eat, it’s out of habit or boredom. If you take a moment to reflect before you pop something in your mouth, you’re much more likely to make better decisions. Over time, this habit should become more automatic, and you’ll be able to more easily discern between real hunger pangs, and some of these false flags.
2. Sit Down to Eat. Avoid Eating “On the Go”.
For busy professionals, parents, or someone who is on-the-go often, it can be difficult to find a time or place to sit down to eat a meal or snack. Sure, there are times when eating on the run is a must, but for any other time where possible, sit down. Take a few extra moments to really pay attention to what you’re eating. When you sit down, you’ll also be able to implement some of the other mindful eating tricks below as well!
3. Slow Down While You Eat.
Pay attention to the texture, smell and taste of your food. How many times have you just wolfed down your food so quickly that you barely remember what it tasted like? Mindful eating means slowing down a little and really take notice of the way that the food tastes, smells and the feel of it when you bite in. Doing these will help bring a level of awareness to the food that you’d have otherwise missed.
4. Put Your Utensils Down In Between Bites.
It is much easier to eat whatever you have on your plate much faster if you don’t put your flatware down, so make it a point to set your utensil down between each bite or two. This will not only help slow down your eating, but will also allow you to appreciate each bite and fully assess your remaining hunger level before you continue.
5. Stop Eating BEFORE You Feel Full.
Wait a few minutes every so often during your meal to make sure you’re actually still hungry before continuing to eat. Sometimes you get so hungry you eat more than you need because you didn’t realize you’d already had enough. Stopping before you feel full is a great way to gauge if you actually need more, and to avoid unnecessarily overeating. Logged it already? Don’t let that be your determining factor; estimate how much is left and subtract it from your log or just save it for later!
6. Enjoy Your Meal.
If your food is not enjoyable to you, you will have a harder time feeling satisfied and may seek out something else to make you happy. This one is simple, and typically not said in conjunction with other diets. A big reason why a lot of diets fail is because they force people to eat/drink food that is not tasty to them, or is boring. This leads to long-term dissatisfaction, and an ever-growing urge to snack on something more pleasurable.
7. Turn Off the TV and Other Screens/Distractions.
Have you ever been eating and watching a movie or scrolling on your phone, only to realize you’ve finished your meal? Mindful eating in this instance means turning off the technology for a few moments. Focus on your food
and let your brain recognize the shift in activities.
8. Choose a Smaller Plate or Bowl.
The illusion of more food makes you think you’re getting bigger potions. Sounds like a trick, but it actually can help. Go ahead and pick the smaller plate and overflow it with veggies; let your eyes see a huge mound of food so you think you’re getting more.
9. Give Yourself Permission to Leave Food on Your Plate.
This is much easier said than done for a lot of people but it’s also very empowering. Despite how you may have been raised, you’re in charge now and it is OK to not clean your plate. Sometimes, it’s better it go to waste than go to your waist.
10. Remember: Food is Fuel.
It’s not good or bad, simply fuel for your body to do its daily tasks and workouts. Of course there are foods that are delicious and that we enjoy more than others, but all food has the same ultimate purpose; it’s giving us the energy we need to live. Remember that there are obvious differences in nutrients but in general, you’re fueling your body and you want to choose the best you can.
Next time you’re faced with a social situation, or you’re just going to have dinner, consider some or all of these mindful eating tips to help you really connect with your meal or snack and increase feelings of satiety and general satisfaction.