If you’re a takeout regular, or you’ve eaten at a big chain restaurant while on a road trip, you may have noticed that portion sizes have tripled over the last 20 years. And it’s likely no surprise that obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates have grown at a corresponding rate. But eating mindfully by making a few small changes to your eating habits can help prevent you from cleaning your ever-growing plate.
It may sound silly, but many people overeat just because they aren’t paying attention. The biggest culprit? Technology. Studies show that when you eat distraction-free meals, you tend to eat less, and when you eat with distractions, you tend to eat more.
Focusing entirely on your meal and your dining companions as opposed to your work, television or mobile device, allows you to more fully enjoy your food, have better digestion, and helps you to read your body’s signals of satiety — preventing mindless overeating, chronic disease and weight-gain.
Here are some dead-simple tweaks you can make starting with your next meal:
Eat at the dinner table, not on the couch. You’re less likely to multitask if you’re sitting at the table.
Turn off your phone and the television, and leave your laptop in the other room.
Take 20 minutes. Try setting a timer, and enjoy your food distraction-free for at least that long.
Always use a plate (one that’s not too big) and take an appropriate portion, particularly if you’re eating takeout. Oftentimes takeout portions are much bigger than normal, so don’t let the container guide you.
Set your fork down between bites to give yourself time to chew. Food is much more satisfying if you enjoy every bite you put in your mouth, and eat more slowly. Plus, if you don’t have a memory of eating, you’re more likely to eat again much sooner than if you had paid attention.
Try eating with your non-dominant hand or with chopsticks. If you’re not mindlessly moving your fork to your mouth, you’ll be more aware of how full you are. Plus, your stomach registers being full about 20 minutes after you’ve already eaten enough food. So going slowly allows your body time to process the food you’ve consumed.
Keep the serving dishes in the kitchen if you tend to eat food just because it’s in front of you. Needing to walk into another room to refill your plate prevents you from continuing to nibble.
Chew one bite at a time. Your mom probably taught you this, but it’s actually quite hard to practice when you’re in a hurry or distracted. Sufficiently chew and swallow your last bite before you take another.
Learn to love leftovers. Think about eating based on how your body feels, not how much food is on your plate. If you’re mostly full but there are still a few bites left, that’s okay! Simply pack them up for later, and you’ll even have a little extra money in your pocket.
Find the time to cook your meal, and enjoy it with others! You’ll give your food more attention and respect if you’ve prepared it yourself, and if you make it an occasion for friends and family to dine with you.
Mindful eating is really about taking time to slow down, and focusing on your food. You’ll enjoy more, eat less, and be more satisfied. Want some company and inspiration? Get the Foodstand app and join the Eat 1 Distraction-free Meal a Day Challenge.
Originally published at www.everup.com on October 3, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com