By Suzanne Seery, BSc, PgDip, MSc, MINDI – Lead Dietitian at Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity
This time of year can be overwhelming when it comes to food, especially if you are focused on losing some weight to improve your health in the longer term. In recent years, mindful eating has emerged as a tool to help people achieve a healthier relationship with food. It can empower individuals to make choices for their own best interest, with a focus on eating healthier for the purposes of health in general as well as for supporting a weight loss goal.
Instead of trying the next fad diet which we know can lead to restrictive eating and weight regain for many, listen to your body and mind and reflect on the habits you have and how you are feeling throughout the day, this can help to tune you in to a more mindful approach to eating.
Mindful Eating is:
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Ten Tips for Mindful Eating
- Plan shopping expeditions and always keep to what is on your shopping list.
- Avoid shopping for food when hungry.
- Eat meals at a pre-set time. Time meals to occur when you are regularly hungry.
- Do not engage in any other activity while eating, like watching TV or reading; make it an experience in itself.
- Confine eating to a specified place in the house, e.g. kitchen table.
- Never eat directly from containers; always place food on a plate. Do not leave serving dishes containing food on the table.
- Limit the amount of bingeable food in the house. Always put food away in cupboards out of sight.
- Savour your food, concentrate on its flavour. Chew slowly and use your senses to explore and savour the texture, smell, and flavour. Put the fork down between each bite of food.
- Prepare a list of alternative activities, incompatible with eating, for times when you know that you are going to be at greatest risk. For example, phoning a friend, going for a run or walk, taking a bath and so on.
- Listen to your body. Are you hungry or thirsty – don’t mistake thirst for hunger, sometimes all you need may be a drink of water to stay hydrated instead of a snack.
Check out more helpful tips from the experts at Croí on our health blog at www.croi.ie/blog