Because eating is not our primary activity, we eat unconsciously and do not focus our attention on our food. In contrast, Europeans, for the most part, exercise less and eat more fat and caloric-laden foods than their American counterparts, yet there is much less obesity in Europe. One of the reasons is because Europeans eat smaller portions. Another reason is that Europeans take the time to enjoy their meal, allowing ample time for satiety signals to work. This act of focusing on eating and eating slowly has been called “mindful” eating. Our problem is not that we think about food too much, but rather we think about food too little.
The following 8 steps to conscious or “mindful” eating will work well for weight control. Coupled with exercise and good food choices, they will work better for weight loss than fad diets.
- Savor your food. Enjoy each bite. Look forward to your meals.
- Eat three meals a day. If you want to skip a meal, skip dinner (but no late night snacks to make up for it).
- Eat only when hungry. Eat only enough to be no longer hungry (not to be full).
- Eat only in your kitchen, dining room or lunch room table.
- Don’t do anything else when eating, besides talking to your family and friends. Don’t read, work on the computer, talk on the phone or watch TV.
- Eat slowly. Chew slowly. Take small bites. Put your utensils down between bites.
- Put a small portion on your plate and remove the serving platter/cooking dish back to the kitchen. Never eat directly from the common pot (it is also unsanitary) and don’t leave food in front of you. This is especially important at restaurants, where there is usually bread on the table. Ask for the bread to be removed.
- Sip water between each bite. This will fill you up and slow down your eating.
Remember, it’s not what you eat, but how you eat.