The How of Eating
The diet industry has told us what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat, but what about how to eat? After traveling throughout Europe watching naturally thin people eat with joy and pleasure, I realized that the how of eating is just as important as the other factors, if not more so.
These are just suggestions that may help you begin to change your relationship with food (and help you drop the weight):
Eat Like a Mouse
Have you ever seen a mouse eat? Okay, so most of us haven't, but I'm sure you've seen cartoons showing how mice nibble. I promise you that if you begin to slow down and take small nibbles of food, instead of huge forkfuls, you will notice yourself eating way less. Why? Because you'll still be finishing your first portion when everyone else may be going back for seconds, and you'll also notice yourself becoming full towards the end because you've given the food time to register on your hunger scale. A general rule is to take bites no larger than the size of your thumb.
Put Your Fork Down
This is also a highly effective way to slow down and enjoy your food. Practice putting your fork down between bites instead of shoveling the food in. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy your food while also eating less.
Chew Foods Thoroughly
Surprisingly, most people do not chew their foods thoroughly. This not only speeds up the rate of eating (which will not help you lose weight), but it also adds an extra burden to the digestive system, since it will need to work harder to digest the food. Give your body a break and chew your foods thoroughly.
Many of us, especially the cook, are guilty of eating (or tasting) standing up. This will not provide you with the satisfaction that you're looking for in a meal. I have a rule that I will try no more than two very small bites when I'm cooking. By doing this, I enjoy my meal so much more because I'm hungry, and I'm sitting down to enjoy it.
Serve meals on Small Plates
Small plates gives the illusion that you are eating more than you actually are. Plus, it provides built in portion control.
Make Dinner an Experience
At least three nights a week (often times more), I turn dinner time into an experience by lighting candles, playing music, and using nice dinnerware. Contrary to many protests, this does not take that much time, and it creates a relaxed environment to enjoy family, conversation, and yes, the food.
Eat with Gratitude
When you approach the table with gratitude, you are celebrating life's abundance and blessings. While it may not seem like a strategy to lose weight, it is most certainly a way to feel instantly positive, because when one is grateful, he cannot also be miserable.
Eat with Curiosity
Do you ever wonder where your food comes from or how it was prepared? Being curious about your food begins to awaken your awareness and from that place, you can start making choices that align with your vision and values.
Eat Like a Snob
My husband thinks I'm bit of a food snob. I eat organically when possible. I pick at my food. I choose quality over quantity.
Eating like a snob says that you value your food and your body and refuse to settle.
So, go ahead. Be a snob.
Eat with all Senses
Stop and notice not only how your food taste, but its other qualities as well. Don't just taste your food, note it's texture, aroma, and appearance. Food presentation can make your mealtime much more enjoyable with less food. For example, I sometimes take rice and place it in a mold for a beautiful presentation on the plate. For breakfast, I will garnish the plates of homemade pancakes with a raspberry sauce.
Have a beginning and an end
American society is accustomed to all day eating, or as we call it, grazing. If you are hungry 24-7, then I guess that this method of eating will work for you, but most people get hungry usually 3 to 4 times a day. You can break this habit by having a definitive beginning and ending to a meal. The beginning starts with the first bite of an appetizer or entree. A nice ending might be a cup of hot tea, coffee, or a small piece of chocolate. Most times, I end mine mentally, telling myself that this is the last bite. Done.
If you begin to feel anxious with this new way of eating, simply stop and take some nice deep breaths before taking your next bite. Remind yourself that change takes time, so be patient with yourself.
Eat Without Guilt
There is nothing more unsatisfying as eating a food that you truly enjoy then spending the next few hours (or days) beating yourself up over it. This usually results in a cycle of deprivation and binging. Allow yourself the gift of nourishing your body with joy and gratitude.
Food is meant to fuel our bodies, but it is almost meant to be pleasurable.
Celebrate food; don't make it the enemy.
It is meant to build and support your brilliant and beautiful body.
What do you think? Do you have mindful eating tips that have helped you?
Tonya Leigh Williams is a coach, speaker, and writer. She is dedicated to empowering women to create amazing lives and bodies without dieting, deprivation and drama. Her passion is helping women find freedom from body image, weight, and food issues. Tonya teaches the secrets of naturally slender people, coaches women on normal eating without deprivation, and shows women how to simultaneously transform their bodies while also living at peace within them. She has helped women lose weight, gain clarity and purpose, and step into a new life free of struggle. If you are interested in learning more about coaching with Tonya Leigh, please email her at [email protected].
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