Vanessa King, a professor of nutrition at American University, has been focusing research on what she calls “mindful eating.” While King says many people know what they should eat (veggies) and shouldn’t eat (fried foods), she’s exploring why people sometimes make bad choices.
“It’s not that people ever thought that eating potato chips was good for them,” she tells The Washington Post. “That’s not the point.” So what compels someone to eat the potato chips or order the extra-large fry exactly?
The first step toward “mindful eating” is acknowledging what you’re eating. Are you eating more than you should because you were taught to clean your plate? Are you eating because everyone else is? Are you bored? Sad? Frustrated?
Jean Kristeller, co-founder of the Center for Mindful Eating, says the practice of more mindful eating is really about bringing awareness to our automatic and reactive responses to food.
“We all develop a lot of automatic patterns around eating,” says Kristeller. “Eating everything on our plate is a perfect example of one of those patterns.”
A few ways to eat more mindfully?
– Listen to your body. Cravings can be a sign of lacking nutrients, like fiber and protein.
– Slow down. Your body will tell you when you are full. That doesn’t mean you should clean your plate every time. Save some for later.
-Present the food in a pleasing way in smaller portions on a smaller plate rather than from a bag or takeout container.
-Use your senses. Smell and study the food rather than simply tasting it.
-Cook at home more to control the amount of salt and fats that are added to foods.
-Keep a food diary that helps navigate when you may need certain nutrients more than others. You’ll avoid binge eating this way.