Eating habits

fiona_boyle

Have you ever sat down to eat something in front of the TV and then wondered what happened to it? Have you suddenly realised you didn’t even taste it even though you were really looking forward to eating it?

Paying attention to how you eat is just as important as looking at what you eat.

Many of the people that I see need to look at eating behaviours, not just food choices. Becoming a ‘mindful eater’ rather than a ‘mindless eater’ is important if you are trying to lose weight.

Being a mindful eater means that you pay attention to where you eat, when you eat, how you eat and what you eat.

If you have a weight problem stop and ask yourself ‘where do I normally eat?’ When was the last time you sat down to eat your meal at the table with out any distractions? This is important for all your meals, not just the evening meal. Eating at the table without watching the TV gives you time to enjoy the food. It allows you to taste the food and enjoy different textures. You have a much greater chance of seeing properly the volume of food you are eating. It also gives you a chance to psychologically register and remember that you have eaten a meal. This means the meal will be more satisfying.

Mindful eaters eat at regular times. Many of my clients will either skip breakfast or lunch – or perhaps both! Many will say that they are not a breakfast eater and that are never hungry at this time. A number of studies have shown though that when you miss a meal you will usually eat more at another time over the day.

If you start eating breakfast you will soon wake up with an appetite for breakfast. With breakfast on board you will be energized to face the day. You will be at less risk of getting the late afternoon cravings.

Perhaps you should also stop and consider how much you eat in the evening. Is your large evening meal dulling your appetite for the morning?

Mindful eaters eat slowly. The more we chew our food the more we taste it and get satisfaction from it. The act of eating slowly also allows our brain to register when we are beginning to feel satisfied. It is then possible to stop eating before you get to the stage of feeling like you have over eaten.

Being aware of what you eat is also important. Aiming to have a good balance at each of your meals is one of the important tricks. By including both protein and carbohydrate in a meal it will help to leave you feeling satisfied for longer.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source – they help to keep you going and keep us feeling satisfied. Are you going without breads, cereals, potatoes, pasta, rice or fruit? I usually find that people who skip on the carbs are the ones that crave something sweet at different times.

A moderate serve of protein will also help with staying power. Include some lean meat, chicken, dairy products, eggs, fish or dried bean alternative for protein.

If you don’t have this balance then you may not be able to resist that chocolate biscuit, piece of cake, or tasty-looking canapé. Without the right balance, we get cravings – usually for the really sweet or high-fat foods.

So don’t just look at what you are eating if you are trying to lose weight. Stop and look at when, where and how you are eating as well.

Fiona Boyle

Fiona Boyle is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She runs a private practice and gives nutrition advice to individuals and families to help meet their health needs and personal goals.

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Categorised: Grown Ups
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