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plate-613271_640Mindful eating is so much more than paying attention to what’s on your plate. How you treat your meal time can change the way you approach food and be an integral part of any weight loss regimen.

Here are four mindful eating tips for your successful weight loss journey:

  1. Take a break to eat your lunch.

Step away from your desk and put your phone aside. Let those calls go to voicemail and respond to those texts later. There is a lot we lose when we quickly inhale our food to get on with our next chore, eat at our desk or go through the drive-thru eating on the run. When we eat fast and multi-task, our brain can’t process the meal and we miss out on the pleasure of eating. When we are distracted, we miss out on the flavors and the smells that accompany a meal. This unsatisfied feeling can leave us desiring for more after the food is gone.

  1. Create a “meal experience.”

Why do we enjoy a meal so much more when we share it with family and friends or out at a nice restaurant? One of my clients told me that she attributed some of her success to a custom she began early in the program where  she would make each meal special by setting the table with a beautiful tablecloth, candles and nice silverware. By creating the special environment, she acknowledged and placed value on the meal and the quality of food she would be consuming. The volume of food was much less than what she was used to consuming before the program. However, she found herself much more satisfied and did not notice she was eating less.

  1. Sense and savor your food.

Similar to setting up a beautiful place to eat, take the time to fully enjoy your food. Slow the eating process down –  note how beautiful the meal looks, appreciate the aroma that surrounds you, anticipate the deliciousness to come. As you place the food in your mouth, note the texture and all the flavors as they come together while you chew your food slowly and let your tastebuds get a workout. Savor each bite and acknowledge how good it tastes. Again, when we eat so quickly, we shorten or even skip out on the cognitive experience of appreciating a meal, leaving us unsatisfied and wanting more.

  1. Set yourself up for success.

Children naturally stop eating when they are full, but quickly lose this instinct as they are taught to “finish your plate.”  Turns out our eating environment, such as the size our eating utensils, can play a significant role in how much we eat. Research by Dr. Brian Wansink, has shown that by switching from a 12” plate to a 10” plate, we can eat 22% less. Incredibly, studies also show that smaller dishes can also help you feel full and more satisfied, despite eating less. The shape of your drinking glasses (tall and skinny vs. wide and short) and the size of your fork and spoon, can similarly lead to less food or drink consumption. By replacing your kitchenware with smaller bowls, plates and tall thin glasses, you can mindlessly control your portions and eat less by default.

Mindful eating enables you to become more aware of factors influencing our eating decisions and may provide an avenue to empower you to make the necessary changes from the inside out – putting you on your way to a successful weight loss journey.

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