How many of us eat without even being hungry?
Popcorn while watching a movie? Check.
Candy dish in the office? Check.
The realization of mindless eating has led to a hot new trend in weight management. It’s called Mindful Eating – taking the time to be aware of what your body is telling you and how you are responding to the food you are eating.
“Our bodies are smart. They tell us when they need nourishment. They tell us when they are full. But we need to listen to them,” explained Melissa Page, a Clinical Bariatric Nutritionist at the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts Medical Center. “We often eat out of habit, because we are stressed, or simply because we are bored. Mindful Eating forces you to pay attention to what we are eating and why.”
For example, Page notes, you may assume that because it’s noon you should eat lunch. But are you even hungry? Or many of us tend to reach for sugary, fatty snacks to combat the emotion of a bad day. Distracted eating is another common issue. Open a bag of chips while you are watching a thriller or reading a good book and you may be surprised when you finish the bag.
“It takes about 20 minutes for the nerves in the stomach to transmit to our brains that we are full,” said Page. “So just slowing down can help you eat less and lose weight.”
Other tips to eat more mindfully:
- Ask yourself “am I hungry?” before eating
- Chew 20-30 times per bite to give your body time to feel full
- Be slow and deliberate when putting your fork from your plate into your mouth
- Pay attention to how your food tastes
- Try turning off the TV or computer and instead concentrating only on the activity of eating
You can also get some help from your smartphone. A number of apps now exist that provide assistance by either helping you track what and how you eat or by slowing the process of eating. Page recommends these apps:
Mindful Bite – by Rose Colored Apps – Helps eaters slow down by flashing signals to prompt the next bite ($.99)
In the Moment - Mindful Eating by Kimberly Flannery – Guide to better spontaneous food choices with uplifting, supportive messaging ($1.99)
Mindful Eating Tracker by Track & Share Apps – Cultivate awareness, graph your journey ($2.99)
Mindful Meal Plan by Realized Mobile LLC – Get a meal plan every week, designed for you (Cost)
Am I Hungry Virtual Coach by Am I Hungry – When you feel like eating, click “I want to eat” and app will guide you ($2.99)
The above content is provided for educational purposes by Tufts Medical Center. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your physician.