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Mindful Eating

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Eating, while engaged in other activity, can prevent us from knowing what and how much we’re putting in our mouths. When our focus is on the television, or in a good book while we eat, we often eat more than we should. And that means too many calories.We need to be mindful -- or attentive -- to not only what we eat, but how much we eat and also why we eat.

One way we can pay more attention to our food, is to not eat while doing any other activity, like watching tv or reading. Snack away from the television or do your reading away from the snack bowl.

“I know that my favorite thing to do was eat and read. So for the first six months I had to completely divorce those two activities, because I wasn’t enjoying either one as much as I could.”

Or, if your snack food comes in a big bag, dish out only the amount that you want to eat.

Eating mindfully also means eating to relieve hunger, not eating because we’re bored, mad, sad or even happy.

“If I was down in the dumps, I’d eat. If I was happy, I’d eat. If something went right for me, it was the greatest thing to happen to me. I’d eat to celebrate.

If you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, choose another activity to occupy your time. Keep your hands busy. Do something you enjoy that’s healthy, productive or fun. Replace eating with some physical activity. Your body will benefit by replacing unhealthy snacking with some exercise.

If you’re snacking because you are hungry, choose healthy snacks like carrots or other vegetables. Other suggestions may be whole wheat crackers, or fruit.

How do you eat during mealtime? When you sit down to a meal, do you eat quickly? Slow down. Enjoy your meal. Be mindful of each bite and give your food full attention. Eating slowly gives our bodies time to feel satisfied, as the amount of food we eat increases.

When your hunger is satisfied, stop eating. Eating quickly doesn’t give your body time to recognize that you’ve eaten as much as you have. That can lead to overeating, feeling satisfied only after we’ve eaten too much.

“I wasn’t mindful of whether I was having one egg or three eggs, or mindful of having a second helpings, third in some cases.”

“I’m actually tasting the food. I’m actually present when I’m eating, where in the past I was just stuffing, and really not enjoying it.”

Again, allow yourself an appropriate serving size. Instead of overeating, reduce the amount of food available to you by taking less, sharing a dish, or saving some for leftovers.

Focus on your food. Think about what, how much, and why you are eating. You’ll find yourself feeling more satisfied with less calories.

You can get more tips about mindful eating by talking to your healthcare provider or a nutritionist.

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