On average, you make more than 200 decisions about food each day — but you’re only aware of a small fraction of them. The rest are performed by your unconscious mind and can lead to mindless eating, which may cause you to overeat, promoting weight gain. Here are 10 science-backed tips to stop mindless eating…
1. Use smaller plates and taller glasses
Studies show that people tend to eat 92% of the food they serve themselves. Therefore, reducing the amount of food you serve yourself can make a significant difference in the number of calories you consume.
One easy way to reduce portion sizes without noticing the change is to use smaller plates and taller glasses.
That’s because big plates tend to make your food portions look small, encouraging you to serve yourself more food. Simply using 9.5-inch (24-cm) plates instead of 12.5-inch (32-cm) plates can help you easily eat up to 27% less food. Additionally, studies show that using tall, thin glasses instead of wide, short ones can reduce the amount of liquids you pour yourself by up to 57%.
2. Decrease variety
Reducing the variety of food flavors, colors, and textures you’re exposed to will help prevent
you from eating more junk food than your body needs.
3. Keep some foods out of sight
Researchers report that the popular saying, “out of sight, out of mind” applies particularly well to mindless eating. Scientists believe that seeing food pushes you to consciously decide whether to eat it. Seeing it more often increases the chances you’ll choose to eat the food. Make this work in your favor by hiding tempting treats, while keeping healthy and nutritious food visible.
4. Eat slowly
Slow eaters tend to eat less, feel fuller, and rate their meals as more pleasant than fast eaters. Scientists believe that taking at least 20–30 minutes to finish a meal allows more time for your body to release hormones that promote feelings of fullness. The extra time also allows your brain to realize you’ve eaten enough before you reach for that second serving. Eating with your non-dominant hand or using chopsticks instead of a fork are two easy ways to reduce your eating speed and make this tip work for you. Chewing more often can help as well.
5. Unplug while you eat
Eating while you’re distracted can lead you to eat faster, feel less full, and mindlessly eat more. Whether this is watching TV, listening to the radio, or playing a computer game, the type of distraction doesn’t seem to matter much. For instance, people watching television while eating their meals ate 36% more pizza and 71% more macaroni and cheese. Plus, it seems that the longer the show, the more food you’re likely to eat. Longer distractions extend the amount of time spent eating, making you more likely to overeat. In addition, eating while distracted may cause you to forget how much you’ve consumed, leading to overeating later in the day. By putting your phone away, switching off the TV, and focusing instead on the textures and
flavors of your food, you’ll quickly stop eating mindlessly and can instead enjoy your meal in a mindful manner.
Take away tip
To transition from mindless to mindful eating, try some of the simple tips above. In doing so, you may improve your overall health and even lose weight in a way that feels easy and can be maintained over the long term. For the best results, choose just three of these tips and aim to apply them consistently for around 66 days — the average time it takes to create a habit
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