Are you mindful when you eat?

When clients come to see me for weight loss, I ask them ‘How fast do you eat?’.  Most of them tell me that they eat quickly, often with the TV on.  I explain the importance of eating slowly and without distractions so that you can hear the messages that your body sends you when it has had sufficient to eat.

Last week I had an extraordinary experience.  I persuaded a friend to experience mindful eating with me.  I cut up some salad vegetables and feta cheese in bite sized portions and put them into two containers.  My friend agreed to put on a blindfold and then I gave him his food.  I did the same.  We agreed not to talk while we were eating.

It was hard not to talk but it became very meditative.  When we had finished we were both very calm and peaceful.  We had both really tasted and enjoyed the food.  The texture and sound of the food also became more apparent.  I stopped eating before the container was empty because I knew I had eaten enough.

I recommend eating with your eyes closed or blindfolded as an experience.  If you want to eat slowly and mindfully:

  • Eat at a table
  • No distractions – turn off the TV, put away the mobile phone or Tablet.
  • Put down your knife and fork between every mouthful
  • Keep the food in your mouth and chew slowly
  • Notice the ‘satisfied’ feeling and stop eating

This is a good start to losing unwanted weight.

Top Tips for Healthy Eating at Christmas

Top Tips for Healthy Eating at Christmas

Tip 1 – Eat slowly

Eating at Christmas is about socialising with family and friends.  It is not a contest for who can eat the most the quickest!  Watch your portion size and then eat slowly, really enjoying your food.  Stop when you are satisfied.  There are always left-overs at Christmas and nobody will notice if you leave something on your plate.

 Tip 2 – Eat your big meals as early as possible

The best time to eat a big meal is just after noon.  At that time your metabolism is working faster and you have the rest of the day to burn off the calories.

Tip 3 – Have a break before you eat your dessert
If you load Christmas pudding, trifle or other sweet things on top of your turkey and gravy it will take much longer for the sugar to digest and pass through your stomach.  During that time, the bacteria in your stomach will cause everything to ferment causing bloating, heartburn and wind.  Take time out to clear the table, have a walk, play a game or something else to let your dinner go down for at least an hour.

Tip 4 – Watch your alcohol intake

There are two problems with drinking alcohol.  The first is that the alcoholic drink and the mixers are empty calories – they are not giving you any nutrition.  The second problem is that alcohol acts as a dis-inhibitor.  After a couple of drinks you notice less about what you are eating and drinking and therefore you tend to eat more than you normally would. 

To avoid these problems drink plenty of water so that you are not thirsty.  Have a glass of water before you sit down to eat your Christmas meal and have a water ‘chaser’ if you are drinking in the evening.

Tip 5 – Be careful when you eat out

Eating out can be a challenge when you are establishing new, healthier eating habits.  There are some simple ideas that can help you.  Firstly, push away the bread basket and resist the temptation to eat before your meal arrives by sipping water.  Next, trade potatoes for another vegetable you enjoy.  Ask for sauce or gravy separately so that you can have a smaller amount.  Finally, don’t over-order or overload your plate.  If you are satisfied before your plate is empty either leave it or ask for a doggie bag.

Tip 6 – Take opportunities to exercise

The Christmas break can be a great time to get out for a walk with friends or members of your family.  Getting outside during the middle of the day is a great way to burn off some calories and boost your levels of vitamin D.  If the weather is not so kind, you could play a physical game indoors.  There are plenty of computer games that are fun and involve physical activity.  Or you could dig out that old game of Twister from the back of the cupboard.  Or how about just having a dance to some music?  If you’ve got young children they will love it.

Tip 7 – Enjoy yourself

Eating healthily over Christmas is not a punishment – feeling bloated and overweight in the New Year is!  The holiday period can be an opportunity to take time to cook and eat good quality food.  Enjoy it!

Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year!