Eat MindfullySavor Your Food
Here are some helpful tips from our diet expert, Ian K. Smith, M.D., founder of the 50 Million Pound Challenge and author of EAT (St. Martin's Press, 2011).
You're engrossed in a scary TV movie when it dawns on you: you've eaten an entire bag of chips! Or you're running late for work, so you inhale a massive muffin en route. This mindless munching can sabotage your weight loss efforts. But paying closer attention to what and how you eat can help you make better choices.
1. Invest in your food.
In general, people have gotten away from the art of cooking. The more you're involved in creating what you eatfrom growing your own vegetables, to shopping for ingredients, to enjoying all the aspects of food preparationthe more mindful you will be. Setting a nice table also helps honor the sanctity of mealtime.
2. Be realistic.
Unless you're living in a monastery, you're still going to eat a sandwich in your cubicle or snack in your car from time to time. But you can take small steps in the right direction: Try to slow down whenever possible (and sit, if you tend to eat while standing or walking) and plan a mindful meal at least once a week. Devote at least 30 minutes to this meal, and really pay attention to the tastes, smells and textures of your food.
3. Feel full.
Your mind and body work together when you eat. Not paying attention to your meals can affect your digestive process negatively, often causing gas and bloating. Furthermore, if your mind is otherwise occupied while you're eating, your brain is likely to miss the signals that tell you you're full.
4. Tune out distractions.
When you're preoccupied with Facebook or the TV, you can't focus on your food. Disconnect from all devices, and eat in areas designed for diningnot on the couch, but at the kitchen or dining room table. (66 percent of Americans regularly eat dinner in front of the TV!)
5. Skip the starvation tactic.
It's a classic diet don't: You eat like a bird or skip a meal and, later, you (mindlessly) make up for it two or three times over. Instead, eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day to keep yourself satiated. Using salad plates can help keep quantities reasonablenot too big or too small.
6. Control cravings.
Some people can have one or two cookies and stop. For others, one or two leads to chowing down on the whole box. Mindful eating doesn't mean depriving yourself of the foods you love, but it does mean being honest with yourself: If indulging in certain foods usually leads to a binge, try to find a healthy substitute instead.
Adapted from our sister publication, REMEDY's Healthy Living Fall 2012