Have you ever found yourself eating and working, driving, or watching TV? You are not alone. Many of us eat one or more meals per day while multitasking. Doing so can have some unintended health consequences when we consider that research shows that while eating in front of the television we can easily consume 40 percent more calories than when we sit at the table without distraction to eat.
Recent studies are showing that paying attention to the way we eat as well as our food choices can yield real health benefits. Focusing on the process of preparing meals and eating can result in decreased food consumption and increased enjoyment.
Practice Mindful Eating
The practice of mindful eating is being taught more and more to people trying to lose or maintain their weight or reduce binge eating and the outcome data thus far is favorable. Mindful eating has also been shown to help improve disease markers in type 2 diabetes. Though it sounds simple, when focusing on the single task of eating, we tend to slow down our rate of consumption, allowing for our satiety system to notify us when we are becoming full, rather than when we are overfull. Mindful eating can help us to take pleasure in eating, rather than feeling that our enjoyment of food and our health goals are at odds.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
- Choose one meal per week or per day to practice eating mindfully.
- Turn off the television and put away the phone, books, or work.
- Assess how hungry you are and select your portion size according to your hunger level.
- Pay close attention to the texture, temperature and flavor of your food for the first five bites of the meal.
- Set down your utensils between bites of food or use your non-dominant hand to promote a slower eating pace.
- Stop and check how your hunger level has changed after 5, and then after 10 minutes of eating.
As with any new habit, over time you may find you are expanding these practices to more meals and enjoying more moments devoted to savoring your food.