The majority of us would likely rank food and eating as one of life’s top daily pleasures. However, our days can be so fast-paced that sometimes we don’t even have time to enjoy our food, let alone stop to eat a proper meal. Our desire for multi-tasking during mealtime is the main reason the sandwich is now the #1 preferred style of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in America! Much of our eating has become mindless, but we can change that. Taking time to check in with ourselves and be more mindful about our food can help prevent overeating, increase our overall satisfaction, and improve blood sugar management.
Do a hunger checkWe often eat on a schedule, but have you ever asked yourself if you are actually hungry when breakfast, lunch, and dinner times arrive? If you truly aren’t hungry, you don’t have to eat, even if the clock says it’s time for a meal. Conversely, there should be no guilt in honoring your body’s natural need for nourishment, even if it isn’t “time to eat.”
Explore your hungerWhen hunger does arise, ask yourself what it is you are truly hungering for. Eating a salad may sound good for your health, but if you’re eating a salad in place of something you would much rather eat, you’ll likely find yourself craving what you really wanted later on. This can lead to overeating, casting aside even the best laid plans for a healthy diet. It’s important to balance good nutrition with food you enjoy. The good news is that so many nutritious foods out there actually taste good! Here at Brook we promote both healthy eating AND enjoying your food.
Do a satiety checkMany people grew up hearing our parents say “clean your plate” or “don’t waste food.” These aren’t necessarily bad messages, but they can promote mindless eating. If you always clean your plate, are you really eating because you’re hungry for everything that’s in front of you, or are you only doing it for the sake of cleaning your plate? The next time you eat, halfway through ask yourself, “am I hungry for the rest of this?” Take a pause to really feel how full or hungry you are. If this feels challenging, it may be easier if you serve yourself a smaller portion initially. You may find that the amount in that first serving is enough to satisfy you, or that you only want a small amount more. If you are out to eat, you might ask for a to-go box as soon as your plate hits the table. Restaurant portions are often larger than what we would eat at home, so immediately removing some of it from the plate can help us stay in tune with our true hunger, especially if we tend to keep eating until the food is gone.
Keep media and food separateThis may seem like a challenging idea. After all, watching TV or movies and eating seem to go hand-in-hand. Likewise, many of us immediately pull out our smartphones if we are eating a meal out on our own. However, research done on this subject shows that mixing screens with our meal leads to a ‘dulling’ in our perception of hunger and fullness cues. In other words, we stop paying attention to whether or not we are getting full when we watch while munching, resulting in overeating. If you tend to watch a show or surf the internet while you eat, consider switching it up. Try sharing a meal with a friend or co-worker (conversation doesn’t seem to dull our fullness cues), or just focus in on the pleasure and taste of the food in front of you for a bit. If you must grab your phone, use it to chat with a Brook Expert about mindful eating! There are lots of resources out there about mindful eating. Some of our favorites include:
Chat soon 💬
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN
on February 19, 2019. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.