Six Ways To Become a Mindful Eater

Author: Calgary Weight Management Centre |

Blog by Calgary Weight Management Centre

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 every day, but unless you know how to listen to your body, you probably won’t reap all of the benefits. And this is why I spend so much time talking to my clients about the "Hunger Scale" and Intuitive/Mindful Eating strategies. Becoming a mindful eater can literally transform your life and your relationship with food forever--you will no longer be at the mercy of a restrictive diet or strict eating plan.

Use these easy tips to become a more mindful eater:

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 of 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. Chew and swallow your food. I'm serious:

“Am I about to put more food in my mouth when I’m still chewing?” If the answer is “yes” then you aren’t really tasting your food and you likely started your meal too hungrily. Get into the habit of putting your utensils down in between bites, chewing and swallowing your food before you dig into your next bite.

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 need:

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. Be the pace-maker:

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 mealtimes. 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 savor 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.

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Weight Management Doctors, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Psychologist

Serving clients from across Alberta, including Calgary, Airdrie, Okotoks, Chestermere, High River, Langdon, Cochrane, Strathmore and other surrounding areas.