Below are 10 tips for improving your mindful eating skills. Many times when people try to transition from strict calorie tracking to a more intuitive or mindful eating approach, they struggle with going back to overeating tendencies. Even while you may be calorie tracking, it can be helpful to begin to learn some intuitive eating skills in order to ease the transition to more successful longterm healthy weight management. The first tip, in particular, is key- paying attention to hunger cues. And then the other tips can help you to maneuver common pitfalls that lead to overeating and falling into old eating habits which can lead to weight gain.
1- Recognize hunger cues: Before you begin eating, take a moment to reflect upon how you feel. Are you rushed? Stressed? Sad? Bored? Hungry? What are your wants, and what are your needs? Differentiate between the two. After you have taken this moment to reflect, then you can choose if you want to eat, what you want to eat, and how you want to eat.
2- Prioritize protein: especially for those that struggle to include enough protein in the day, put protein as the center of all your meals and snacks- and then add carbs and fats with it or on the side to complete your meals.
3- Limit calories from drinks: drinking calories often leaves you feeling still just as hungry as when you started. Instead get the majority of your calories from actual food and you will feel more satisfied. Instead of a smoothie, eat whole fruits. (however, if you are looking to gain weight, then incorporating more smoothies and drinks with calories can be a helpful way to get more food in you).
4- Limit fast food: I’m all about incorporating eating out into a sustainable diet and way of life. But if you are eating out everyday for lunch, try meal prepping and packing your lunch more often. Even when restaurants offer nutritional information, they are often more inaccurate, since each will be portioned differently. Plus meals out tend to be higher in fats and you can often get more food for your macros by preparing your food from home- helping you feel more satisfied with more volume.
5- Sit down: as much as possible, don’t eat on the go (unless you have to of course). Instead, have a seat- you are less likely to appreciate food when you are multi-tasking. It’s also difficult to keep track of how much you are eating when you snack on the go. Meal prepping can help combat this if you need to be an on the go eater.
6- Remove distractions: Have you ever glanced down from your phone, computer, tv, only to wonder where all your food went? These distractions make us less aware of how much we are eating.
7- Portion your food: Resist eating straight from the bag or box. Not only is it easier to overeat when you can’t see how much you’ve had, but it is also harder to fully enjoy your food when it is hidden from view.
8- Use smaller plates: you might crave less if you see less. Smaller plates help with portion control- also a great strategy if you find yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
9- Slow down: Don’t speed eat your food (even if you feel really hungry)- chew your food, eat slowly, and mindfully. You are also less likely to overeat if you give your body time to send and receive messages that you are getting full. It also helps to drink more water between bites and put down your fork occasionally during your meal.
10- Change up your eating location: If you find that you are overeating and having binge evenings often, determine WHERE that is happening. If it’s always in your living room while watching tv, then change up your location next time those impulses start up. Switch to a different activity, move to another room, go for a walk, etc. If you are actually hungry (after reflecting on your hunger cues), eat a portioned out nutritious snack.