Eating abundantly involves tuning in to your body’s hunger and satiety signals by tuning out distractions, such as eating while driving, watching television or reading the paper. “When you’re distracted, you end up eating more,” says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.
Here are five ways to bring mindfulness to your meals:
- Start with a blessing or intention. Simply getting conscious about the fact that you are eating with the intent to enjoy the meal and nourish your body gives your brain and biochemistry a chance to ready themselves — and it gives you a chance to become fully present for the rest of your mindful-eating experience.
- Sharpen satiety signals. Before and a few times during each meal, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?” See if you can stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed.
- Tune in to your senses. Really look at and smell your food before you taste it, strive to fully experience each bite, and track the sensations as your satisfaction rises and then plateaus — a sign that your hunger is subsiding and your body is signaling “enough.”
- Slow down. Put your fork and knife down between bites, and chew each bit of food a little longer. Slender people chew their food 30 percent more than overweight people, according to Wansink’s latest research. “They get more flavor and, therefore, more pleasure from less food.”
- Be aware of other people’s influence. “We tend to mimic the speed at which [our tablemates] eat, as well as how much they eat,” explains Wansink. His tip? When eating in a group, be the last person to start eating and then pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table.
This was excerpted from “In Praise of Plenty” which was published in the December 2008 issue of Experience Life magazine.