Quantities of what we are eating usually come into focus more so around the times when there are holiday occasions or big celebrations coming about when portion sizes can get a little out of control. Not all events need to have the same overeating scenario where pants need to be loosened at the table, and having a sleepy afternoon or early night because all of our internal resources have been put into digesting the large amount of food we have eaten.
Mindful eating techniques can come in use during these occasions, but can also make a huge contribution to our day to day eating behaviours. They do not dictate food choices, or make us feel guilty for the food decisions we make, or have to ensure that we are eating to a specific way or “diet”, but are there to help enhance enjoyment of food by recognising our natural food cues. Mindful eating techniques makes us aware of how we are feeling in the moment, and that we are aware of what is occurring. We forget about the external distractions of what happened an hour ago, or what is going to occur in the upcoming day, and instead place our focus into the current experience of eating our meal, which leads to a greater level of enjoyment of our meal, and be more engaged in the experience of eating. This can prevent us from overeating, and can also lead to feeling more comfortable and contented after a meal.
So what are some mindful eating techniques to try if you are a beginner and curious to give it a try?
- No screens – this includes tv, mobiles, tablets, and other gadgets. These provide a very real distraction, and often engage focus so much that we have overeaten before even realising. So remove the screen, and gauge how you are feeling throughout your meal.
- Portion out – this involves when things come from a box or packet. Take a small container or bowl and portion your serve out before you eat. This will require getting up for another snack if you choose to, and then gives the opportunity to decide whether you are still hungry enough to need another portion, instead of getting to the bottom of the packet and having too much.
- Chew 30 times – this slows down eating time, helps your digestion, and registers fullness.
- Put your utensils down between bites – this is easier said than done, and it often takes being mindful and aware while you are eating to be able to do this. It takes a bit of practice.
- Don’t be part of the ‘clean plate club’ – many of us were instilled with not being allowed to leave the table until the plate was clean. Cancel your registration and free yourself! Leaving 2 bites on the plate is more than ok, especially if it prevents overfullness.
- Sit down – don’t eat on the go. Do your best to take 5 minutes to sit down, eat mindfully and slowly as much as you can, and enjoy every bite. Take another 5 minute break when you can to have some more or finish things off.
- Reflect – recognise how you are feeling when you sit down to eat: are you tired, distracted, feeling rushed? Recognise these, take 10 deep breaths, and then enjoy your meal.
Learning some mindful eating techniques can be a little more challenging than first thought, but like anything else than can be learnt and become second nature. If you are looking for more guidance, come and see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians for more guidance.