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Slow Down and Eliminate Distractions while Eating

Distractions, work, family, friends and manoeuvring life post lockdown can leave you feeling like you have very little time for yourself. Do you find you are always finishing your dinner before everyone else in your family, or do you find yourself eating on the go for nearly every meal? Do you rush through dinner while checking emails or watching television? Distracted and unconscious eating may be harming your weight loss goals. Studies show that distracted eating may lead to weight gain.

Slow down, turn off the distractions and practise some mindful eating. Take time to savour your food and nourish your body and soul.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body.

Mindful eating is especially important for those on a weight loss journey. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. Eating more slowly allows for the natural feedback systems within your body to let you know you've had enough.

When you become aware of your senses and use mindful eating techniques, your body will naturally slow down.

Think about these tips for slow, distraction-free eating:

Craving or hunger?

First, make sure you understand the difference between real hunger and a craving. Hunger is physiological, such as your stomach growling, headache, tiredness. Cravings are more psychological, like the urge to eat something very specific like chocolate, and sometimes associated with negative energy or emotion. Ask yourself if you're really hungry, or are you just bored, angry, lonely, or tired? If it's more emotional than physical, consider riding out that urge with a tactic like drinking a glass of water, going for a walk around the block or engaging in some other short-term activity. If you're hungry, sit down and slowly, mindfully eat something.

Take a break from the screen

Distracted eating can lead to overeating since you're not paying attention to how much you're eating, and when you are beginning to feel satisfied. Put your phone down and turn off the TV, turn away from your desktop, laptop or tablet.

Plate your food

Just because you can reheat your dinner in the microwave doesn't mean you should eat out of the plastic dish. Instead, try plating your food on a dinner plate. Consider using a placemat and a cloth napkin to make your meal even more mindful.

Check-in with your emotions and body sensations

Before you take a bite, take a breath and then a sip of water to signal the start of your meal. Chew each bite carefully, and pause for a bit between bites. Notice the tastes, the textures, the aromas. This will automatically slow your rate and help you know your "state." Pay attention to how each bite brings you closer to satisfaction. Ask yourself, "Am I still hungry, am I feeling stuffed, or am I feeling just satisfied enough?"

Appreciate your food

Stop to think about the ingredients in each food. Consider everything that went into your meal—from the farmers who grew the vegetables to the cows that produced the milk. What did it take to grow and harvest the strawberries on your cereal? What did it take to get the fruits to the market? This way of thinking will give you a new appreciation for every single bite you take.


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