Eating too much? Follow these easy ways to avoid mindless eating at home.
Think food isn’t on your mind? Think again! According to US research, we make more than 200 food decisions each day, yet the average person thinks they only make 15. Decisions like “who, what, where, when and how much” constantly float through our minds, yet many of us are oblivious to them. While each of these decisions may seem small, they all have the ability to change our eating behaviours is some way. Think about all the food you find yourself eating mindlessly while in front of television, while at your desk or while walking from the kitchen. The good news is, small changes to your environment can reduce your mindless eating. To make food work for your (instead of against you), follow these easy tips and make mindful eating work for you at home.
Eat only at the table: Be mindful when eating by eliminating distractions at mealtime. Turn the television off, as eating in front of the television increases food intake. Create a rule of no eating at your desk or when walking from the kitchen. Make sure you are always sitting at the dinner table so you can process that it is mealtime. This will make it easier for you to recognise when you have had enough to eat.
Put your knife and fork down after each mouthful: Slow down your eating by putting your knife and fork down between each mouthful. Taking your time to chew your food brings enjoyment to the eating process and makes it more likely that you will stop eating when you feel satisfied.
Eat off smaller plates: Reducing the amount you eat could be as easy as eating off smaller plates. According to research from the US, people under serve themselves when they are given smaller plates or bowls, and over serve themselves when given larger dinnerware. To avoid overeating, replace any large plates, bowls or glasses with smaller ones.
Hide the junk food: Food out of sight is also out of mind, with research showing we are three times more likely to eat the first thing we see when compared to the fifth thing. While you could always avoid purchasing the junk food in the first place, if this isn’t an option, keep it at the back of the pantry where it is out of sight. Load the front of your pantry with the healthy options.
Eat using your non-dominant hand: Right-handed? Then try eating with your left hand. Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that eating with your non-dominant hand can help you reduce the amount of you eat by as much as 30 per cent. Such a simple way to help you slow down your eating and increase the likelihood of eating only what you need.
Never eat from a packet: Whether your food of choice is takeaway or packaged food, take it out of the packet and serve it on a plate or in a bowl. When we eat directly from a packet, we are unaware of exactly how much we have consumed and we’re more likely to keep eating until we have finished the entire packet. Serving your food on a plate makes it more likely you will only dish up and eat what you need, saving any leftovers for another meal.
Get enough sleep: Not getting your beauty sleep interferes with your body’s hunger hormones, meaning you end up eating more than if your had a good night’s sleep. Not only does inadequate sleep increase the hunger hormone ghrelin, it also has an impact on cognitive restraint. Sugary and fatty foods are tempting, and when you’re lacking sleep you may be less likely to restrain yourself from eating. Get a good night sleep, and you can resist them more easily.
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.