1. Slow Down
Do you ever scarf down breakfast/lunch/dinner only to realize that you have no idea what you just ate? Life is fast paced and unfortunately, that go-go-go mentality has lurked its way into how we eat. Slow down! What's the rush? Not only will eating slower give you the satisfaction of actually tasting your food, but it will help you feel fuller on less food. When you gobble down your dinner your brain doesn't have time to tell you you're full, stop! Here's a good article from Harvard Health on the science behind eating slowly.
2. Experience Food
Eating great tasting food is so much better when you "experience" it - this means using more than your sense of taste. Have you ever really looked at the colors of a mango or the inside of a beet? Food is beautiful! No wonder there are massive amounts of food blogs and Flickr groups dedicated to photographing food.
Experiencing food also means taking in all those glorious aromas: fresh baked bread, rosemary and cilantro, spicy noodles, vanilla and chai.
Treat your food like a connoisseur treats a glass of wine; experience the colors, aromas, textures, and tastes. You'll appreciate each bite much more.
Since life tends to be fast paced, it's hard not to multitask. Bring your focus back to just eating, not eating and reading or eating and watching television, etc. Eating should be an activity of its own and deserves its own time slot. If you're stuck at work during lunch, move away from the computer. If you're eating at home, turn off the T.V. In order to experience the meal you need to focus on it.
4. Hit Pause
Thinking of getting a second helping of mashed potatoes and meatloaf? Give yourself 20-30 minutes before doing so to see if you're actually full. Studies have shown that it takes 20-30 minutes for your brain to send the signal that you're full, so if you go ahead and eat that second helping before you realize your stomach is at max capacity, you may end up feeling bloated instead. Blah!
5. Think Twice
What are you putting in your body? Is it fresh, colorful, raw, nutritious? or sugary, greasy, filled with ingredients you can't pronounce? Remember, the more raw, organic foods you eat, the better. Also, when putting your meals together, try putting a variety of colors on the plate; this ensures you're getting a multitude of vitamins and nutrition.
6. Portion Control
Bigger is not better when it comes to mindful eating. One way to curb piling food on your plate is to use smaller dishware. When you use a big plate, a normal-sized serving looks small, so you're more likely to dish out a larger serving. This guide will give you an idea of what a serving size should be. Also keep in mind that just because something is fat-free doesn't mean you can eat more of it.
7. Keep a Food Diary
Make it a goal to keep track of what you're eating for at least a week. You'll be amazed at how much all those "nibbles here and there" add up to. On the flip side, you can see if you're not eating enough and just getting by on vending machine candy. You may also want to list how you're feeling next to each meal and snack to see if you're only eating because you're excited/depressed/bored.
Planning and preparing meals ahead of time will help you to avoid picking up last-minute fast food or grabbing the bag of chips. Create a menu of weekly dinners and have prepared veggies on hand so that when you get home from work, half the job is already finished. I am particularly lazy when it comes to making lunches and dinner, and it's so much easier to order a pizza or heat up a microwave dinner, but when I take the time to prepare my meals a day or week ahead, I end up eating so much healthier.
Mindful eating does not mean you have to give up your favorite ice cream. Giving up foods you love or feeling guilty for eating dessert will only bite you in the butt. You're more likely to pig out on the "bad foods" later by giving them up completely now. Go ahead and get that luxurious bar of chocolate, but instead of eating the whole thing, take your time. Break off one piece, eat it slowly, enjoy!