Want to make healthier food choices? Follow these tips

Woman preparing food
Want to make healthier food choices? Pay attention to what you’re eating.

So much to do, so little time and too many distractions in between. It’s no wonder we are so mindless when eating; we eat too much and too fast. We eat while watching TV while answering emails, surfing the net, staring at our phones and never paying attention to the eating experience.

A 2011 study by Osaka University showed that eating too fast is one of the surest ways of gaining weight because the mechanisms that tell your brain you’re full doesn’t work as fast, so by the time your brain gets the signal that you’re full, you’re on the second (or third) helping.

Eating while distracted is just as bad. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, people who eat while doing other things – such as watching TV or staring at the phone – ended up snacking later compared to people who are mindful while eating.

“Very often it’s a combination of limited time, stress, opportunity and our very own emotional landscape that prompts us to take the first bite and keep eating. Our culture, along with the nature of our brains, has created a perfect storm that encourages us to automatically eat, overeat, or eat unhealthy food,” writes Ruth Wolever and Beth Reardon, the authors of The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health.

Your trick to losing weight or just being healthy could lie in mindful eating. It involves being present, attentive and aware of the eating experience inside and outside the body.

“It’s breaking old, mindless eating habits and closely gauging your appetite to eat just when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied,” says Susan Albers, author of Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food.

Mindful eating is not a diet and does not involve cutting out foods groups; it’s about the whole experience of eating, whether it’s fries or a salad.

“Diets contain rules created for you; they are external pieces of advice. Mindful eating is turning inward to use your intuitive wisdom to find what works for you,” says Albers.

A study by the University of East London shows that mindfulness can lead to healthier choices and help prevent emotional eating. This concept has also been shown to help people lose weight (because you stop eating when satisfied) and aid digestion.

Tips for mindful eating

Get rid of distractions: 

“The only thing you should be looking at is your plate and utensils. the only thing you should be hearing is your utensils on the plate and yourself chewing your food,” says Brooke randolph, a mental health counselor.

Eat slowly: 

You'll enjoy your food more and consume fewer calories. chew smaller bites and take time chewing your food (which will help you digest food easily). Put down your fork between bites.

Pay attention to the details:

Take in the characteristics of your food – how it looks, how it smells, how it feels. “look at it; the more you look at it, the more you start to think, ‘where does it come from?’ think about what was involved in the growing process, who was involved in that growing process. all these things change our perspective around what we eat and the way we eat,” says Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert.

Know when to stop: 

Be sure to stop eating when you start to feel full. But how do you know you’re full? “assuming we can rely on our stomach to tell us how much food to eat is one of our main misconceptions,” says laura katleman, author of skinny thinking: five revolutionary steps to Permanently heal your relationship with food, Weight and your Body. “let portion size, rather than the feeling in your stomach determine how much you eat,” she advises.
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