Mindful Eating has been an effective tool for improving people’s relationship with food. No food is truly off limits but there is more recognition of the inner and external cues for eating, a better sense of when you are hungry or full, and also a focus on how different foods make you feel. You can learn more about mindful eating from https://thecenterformindfuleating.org/
- Start by limiting distractions such as TVs, phones, computers, and anything you feel distracts you from your food. Without anything to distract you, you won’t look down and wonder “where did it go?” leading to feelings of dissatisfaction which can lead to eating more to feel satisfied.
- Try eating more slowly too as this will help you digest what you are eating and it helps you tune in to when you are beginning to feel full more effectively than when you rush.
Engage your senses so you are aware of how a food feels, tastes, smells, looks, and even sounds. When we stop and pay attention, we can notice all the different qualities of the food we are eating.
- Why do you want to eat? Ask yourself why you eat to explore some of the reasons you choose to eat. You may eat to stay full but you may also eat because of your environment, advertisements, or particular situations. Understanding the “why” can help you determine when you are experiencing an internal cue for hunger or an external one.
- Pay attention to hunger and fullness. Before starting your meal, rank your hunger on a scale of 1-10, 1 being famished, 10 being post-Thanksgiving dinner stuffed. When you've eaten about half of your plate, rate your hunger again. Do the same immediately after eating and again 30 minutes after eating. This is called a hunger scale and it can help you begin to notice differences in hunger levels with different foods. Did you feel hungry soon after the meal? Was something missing (a source of protein perhaps)? Maybe you actually did need more food to satisfy your hunger? How full you feel is going to be influenced by what you are eating but also how well rested you are, what kind of day you are having etc. Reflecting on things like sleep and stress can help you address what you want to change to improve those behaviours as well. It’s all connected!
Christine McPhail MSc RD