It’s easy enough to learn (and for me, teach) what to eat to stay healthy. But most people forget that how you eat is just as important, if not more.
You could eat the healthiest of healthy foods everyday, but unless you know how to listen to your body, you probably won’t reap all of the benefits. And this is why many of my facebook page tips and blog posts focus on the how’s and why’s of eating, even when it comes to kids. As parents, if we learn how to eat in a mindful and intuitive way, our children will model after us and become mindful eaters as well. This sets them up for a healthy relationship with food for life.
Use these easy tips to become a more mindful eater (and feeder):
1. Don’t eat in front of a screen:
This is a BIG one. When you eat in front of a screen, whether it be the TV, your phone, your computer or your tablet, you are not focusing on your food. At all. You’re focusing on what you’re watching, reading or typing and this is almost always a recipe for overeating (this is true with kids too). I’m guilty for this one – and I almost always eat more than I would otherwise if I’m in front of a screen. Even for 15 or 20 minutes, unplug and focus on the food that you’re putting into your mouth.
2. Ask yourself this question:
“Am I about to put more food in my mouth when I’m still chewing?” If the answer is “yes”, than you aren’t really tasting your food and you likely started your meal too hungry. Get into the habit of putting your utensils down in between bites and savouring your food.
3. Try using your other hand:
This is tricky but kind of fun, and it almost forces you to eat a bit slower. Try it!
4. Serve yourself less than you think you’ll eat:
Almost all of us underestimate how much we serve ourselves and eat. Serve yourself a little bit less than you think you’ll want to eat and know that you can always go back for more. Because we tend to eat what is in front of us (I call it the “See-Food Syndrome”), serving yourself less will force you to take a moment to ask yourself if you actually need more. More times than not, you will decide that you’re comfortably full and you do not need more.
5. Set your own pace:
In a group setting (family, friends or co-workers), we seem to want to imitate the people around us. If you dine with really fast eaters, you will likely eat fast as well. And you will eat slower when you’re around slow eaters. So consciously try to set your own pace at meal times. Notice who is eating fast and who is eating slow. If you find it difficult to set your own pace, pace yourself according to the slowest eater. Remember to put your utensils down in between bites and really taste and savour your food. This will also allow you to stop when you’re comfortably full, not stuffed.
6. Use a plate or bowl:
Sounds silly, right? But just think about how many times you unconsciously grab food from a package, a bag or a box and before you know it, it’s gone. You will almost always overeat when your food isn’t served in a bowl or on a plate. Even when it comes to the smallest snacks, put them on a plate so that you can see how much is in front of you. Go a step further and use smaller plates and bowls whenever you can- you will always eat less.
7. Don’t let yourself become “starving”:
Busy Moms are all too familiar with this feeling. You are running around making sure that everyone else is taken care of and *BAM*, you realize that you haven’t eaten in 6 hours and you’re starving. What happens next? You reach for the closest and most appealing food and eat fast and furiously until you feel over-full. And then you regret it. A good way to avoid this is to eat with your kids (if you have kids at home). You always make sure that they are well fed, so why not do this for yourself as well? If this is impossible or your kids are in school or daycare, set a timer to remind yourself to eat. Listen to your hunger cues and start eating when you first start feeling hunger. Don’t wait.
Did you know that we provide one on one nutrition counselling services for families? If this is something you’d like to learn more about, check out our The Centre For Family Nutrition page.