We all overeat from time to time. Christmas and Thanksgiving are often prime examples. Food is a large part of these special occasions, where people enjoy the holiday spirit, good company, and good food. But what if we find ourselves overeating more typically or regularly than we’d like to?
Mindful eating strategies have been shown to be a powerful tool in reducing overeating and mindless eating (1). It’s a process of awareness, where we increase mindful attention to the eating experience, without any judgement. Mindful eating not only prevents us from overeating it also increases pleasure and satisfaction from food! This is a natural part of the eating experience, however when we aren’t mindful of the eating experience we miss out on the extent of pleasure we can receive from eating.
Here are four mindful eating strategies you can start implementing at your next meal to halt overeating:
1. Limit distractions and sit at the table
Overeating and mindless eating can easily occur when we have our eyes on our television, phone, or work. Set aside distractions, step away from your work or to-do-list and set a nice eating environment. Make it a time for you, and enjoy the ambiance.
2. Check in with hunger and fullness
Assess the reason you’re eating and your hunger level before you begin eating and continue to check in during your meal. Allow your satiety (feeling of fullness) to guide you in when to stop eating.
3. Engage all your senses
Use all your senses to enjoy your food; the taste, aroma, colours, temperature, sounds, and crunches. Give appreciation for the tasty food in front of you!
4. Extend your meal time
As a dietitian, I usually suggest eating slowly, aim to extend your mealtime to at least 20 minutes. This is the minimal time it takes time for our brain to register fullness. Place utensils down between bites. This also gives us the opportunity to check in with our hunger and fullness.
Engaging in mindful eating is like any new habit we try to install, it takes effort and commitment at first, but with time and practice it becomes second nature!
Looking for extra support? Myself or another dietitian mindful eating expert of the team will be happy to support you in your journey.
(1) Jessica L. Kerin, Haley J. Webb & Melanie J. Zimmer‐gembeck (2018) Resisting the temptation of food: Regulating overeating and associations with emotion regulation, mindfulness, and eating pathology, Australian Journal of Psychology, 70:2, 167-178, DOI: 10.1111/ajpy.12169