There are many physical (hunger), emotional (stress, happiness, etc.) and environmental cues (commercials, fast food on every corner) that trigger us to eat. People frequently eat when they are not hungry or when they may not have planned on it. Being more mindful about portions size, what you’re eating and why can make a difference in your ability to manage your weight. Here are some tips for becoming more mindful of your food intake.
- 1. Avoid distractions.
- 2. Eat at the table.
- 3. Make a plate that appeals to you. Presentation of your food and the place setting make your food more enjoyable.
- 4. Appreciate what you’re eating.
- 5. Take your time. Enjoy the smell, texture and taste.
- 6. Pay attention to cues that tell you, “I’m hungry” or “I’m full”.
- 7. Hold yourself accountable for food choices.
- 8. Stop when you feel comfortable, knowing you will eat again when you’re hungry.
- 9. Forgive yourself if you eat too much or make poor food choices at a particular meal.
- 10. Practice using the hunger scale (see below).
Practice “checking in” with yourself on occasion and use the hunger scale to gauge how hungry or full you are before and after a meal. Ideally, we should fluctuate between 3-6 (hungry–full) on the Hunger Scale. It is important not to get too hungry because it can set you up to overeat at your next meal. Also, pay attention to satiety. Stop eating before you are full and remind yourself that you can eat again when hungry. Put more focus on food and internal hunger/ satiety cues by not eating while driving, eating in front of the TV or computer or while talking on the phone. Intuitive or mindful eating takes practice, but it can make a big difference in our approach to food and satisfaction with meals.