5 simple tricks to eat more mindfully
Photography: Jack Guy
If you’ve ever found yourself polishing off a packet of biscuits or emptying that bowl of tortilla chips without noticing, you could use New York Times best-selling author Sophie Uliano’s foolproof ways to curb mindless eating.
1. Slow down and savour it
From rush-eating a sandwich before a meeting to devouring a cereal bar during your morning commute, we’re all guilty of mindlessly wolfing down our meal without savouring each bite.
But speed eating could be sabotaging your health and weight, according to a study by Osaka University. Researchers found that fast eaters were 84 per cent more likely to be overweight.
THE FIX: Physically put your fork down between each bite. According to Dr John La Puma, author of Refuel and The Realage Diet: Make Yourself Younger With What You Eat, it can take the brain up to 25 minutes to recognise that your stomach is full.
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2. Turn that screen off
It can be tempting to eat in front of your computer, phone or TV screen, especially when you want to seize any spare moment to scroll through Facebook or catch up on your favourite box-set. Even Sophie herself has confessed to trying to save time at lunch by checking emails! But beware: your waistline won’t thank you.
‘When we eat in front of the TV, we’re focusing on what we’re watching and hearing, and not on the food we are eating,’ says chartered psychologist Dr Rose Aghdami. ‘This means that we don’t register our experience of eating as thoroughly in our mind as we do when we pay attention more fully to the experience of eating.’
THE FIX: Give your food the attention it deserves. Banish screens and enjoy the smells, tastes and textures of food in front of you.
3. Avoid food if you’re angry
Some of us can relate to seeking solace in food when we’re angry. But beware: using food as a security blanket could make you pile on the pounds.
‘Whenever we eat when we we’re feeling angry, we’re likely to be eating mainly to distract ourselves from difficult feelings,’ says Dr Aghdami. ‘If we eat when we’re angry, we may eat regardless of whether we we’re hungry and keep on eating even if we become full.’
THE FIX: Don’t resume eating until you have given yourself enough time to breathe and cool down.
Read more: Can we become a mindful nation?
4. Give thanks – and develop a gratitude attitude
A short moment of silence or a spoken prayer as a precursor to picking up your fork is often practised in many cultures and religions. But saying a blessing doesn’t necessarily have to be religious: it can simply be a moment to silently thank everyone and everything involved in bringing the food to a plate.
‘Giving thanks helps to develop a positive and appreciative mind-set. We’re really fortunate to have the quality and variety of food available to us – but it’s easy to take it for granted. Food is valuable – for nutrition, for enjoyment, for celebration, for sharing. Being thankful reminds us of this,’ says Dr Aghdami.
THE FIX: Allow a moment of gratitude for the food you will eat.
5. Appreciate what’s on your plate
Rather than ploughing through a whole plate of food, look at the food you’ve chosen as if you’ve never seen it before.
THE FIX: Notice and appreciate the vibrant colours, shapes and energy of the food lovingly and beautifully prepared on your plate.
Adapted from Gorgeous For Good: A Simple 30-Day Programme for Lasting Beauty – Inside And Out by Sophie Uliano (Hay House, £12.99). Follow Sophie Uliano on Twitter at @sophieuliano