7 tips for mindful eating for health by Dr Kate Martin Clinical Psychologist
Many people lose weight then put it on again, or start eating healthier only to fall back into old habits. Sound familiar? This battle can feel draining. The following are practical tips from research and learned from the people I have had the privilege of helping in my practice. I hope they are helpful to … Continued
Many people lose weight then put it on again, or start eating healthier only to fall back into old habits. Sound familiar? This battle can feel draining. The following are practical tips from research and learned from the people I have had the privilege of helping in my practice. I hope they are helpful to you too. Seven tips, seven days, have a go and see what changes you can make.
- Ditch the diet, live healthier! What images and feelings does the word diet bring? For me it makes me think of restriction, getting bored with repeatedly eating certain things, eating things I don’t like or having to miss out on the food I love. Limiting oneself to a restrictive diet is never sustainable and often results in regaining any weight lost. Consider your goals of living healthier, adding in healthy things and cutting down a little on the things we should have less of. To stick to anything it must bring us satisfaction, and be achievable.
- Enjoy food!! Eat it slowly, mindfully, eat at a table or on a different chair to the one you lounge in. This focuses our attention on the process of eating allows us to be more satisfied by food. This helps us to feel fuller faster so you are likely to eat less and really enjoy it.
- Wait. After eating a meal wait a while before having more or having something sweet. We often crave sweet things immediately after a meal due to changes in our blood sugar but this will pass. Our stomach takes time to tell our mind it’s full, therefore we often eat past the point of fullness (satiation). Many people find they are fuller quicker than expected simply by giving our brain time to realise the stomach has food in it.
- Plate size. Use a smaller plate and put the vegetables on first. This helps us to not see the plate as too empty, setting up our expectations that we won’t be satisfied. This means we are more likely to stick to portion sizes. This loading of the veg first also helps when eating out at buffets etc. Don’t leave eating the vegetables to last! This means when we get full if we are leaving something on our plate it won’t be the vegetables.
- Become a Portion detective. Measure out portions so you can see what they should look like. First put the amount you’d usually have into a bowl or pan. Then measure out a portion to compare. I was shocked by the size of a recommended portion of pasta and cereal! Put this recommended portion into a cup or a bowl that fits this amount – this saves you weighing it each time. You’ll soon get better at judging sizes, but you may want to start by just reducing your usual portion bit by bit. Always start with the recommended portion and add to this but reduce the ‘extra’ each time.
- Get freezing! Some people struggle with overeating or ‘picking’ at left overs. Box up extra portions straight away and put them in the freezer. You’d be amazed at what can be frozen – cooked meat, cheese, pasta. Put scraps that can’t be reused in bin straight away to avoid temptation.
- Treat yourself. Plan for treats and keep them as treats. For example, if you enjoy takeaway on a Saturday or know Friday evenings are a time that you won’t want to cook, plan for this. Get in something quick and tasty to have. The aim here is not to be saintly but to be a bit healthier than usual. Oven chips and dusted fish or frozen pizzas are often way healthier than the equivalent take away. Compromise by, for example, cooking your own boiled rice for chinese takeaway rather than ordering fried rice but still order in the rest. It’s not about eating healthy food all of the time, it’s about living healthier.
Remember, if you have a ‘bad day’ with food that’s ok, you haven’t failed and there’s no reason why you can’t eat a little healthier the next day. Many of us love food and we need to keep it that way by starting to enjoy the food that is good for our body and having a balanced relationship with food.
Best wishes, Kate