Are you being mindful at mealtime? Try these tips for a healthier relationship with food

Stock image | Photo by DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Are you trying to eat healthier? One of the best ways to stay on track is by eating mindfully. Mindful eating is simply being aware of what you are putting in your mouth and paying attention to how it affects your body, feelings and mind.

Stock image | Photo by Drazen Zigic/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

This is a helpful practice for anyone who is focused on healthy eating. It makes you stop and think about what is going in your mouth, and why you are putting it there. Are you actually hungry? Are you eating out of boredom? Is it stress eating? Mindful eating pulls you off autopilot and helps you be more attentive and aware of your food and drink choices.

Consider the following tips to help you set up and stick to a mindful eating plan.

Use a smaller plate. Have you heard the term “You eat with your eyes?” If you are hungry, you tend to fill your plate as full as you can get it. This leads to overeating as you are tempted to quickly gobble up everything on your plate, missing your internal cues signaling that you are satisfied. To prevent overeating, try using a smaller plate. You can fill up your plate while keeping portion sizes in check.

You eat what you see. If you see a jar of candy on the countertop, chances are you’ll grab a piece of candy as a quick fix when you’re hungry. If you see a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the countertop instead, you might reach for a nice, juicy apple. Keeping healthy foods where you can see them, and tucking not-so-healthy foods away, helps you make better choices more often. It is easier to eat mindfully when unhealthy foods are out of sight and out of mind.

Serve from the stove. Rather than bringing all the food to the table, keep it by the stove or on the countertop. If you must get up to serve yourself another helping, you’re less likely to continually put more food on your plate. Bring fruits and veggies to the table instead. If you are still hungry, refill your plate with what is right in front of you.

Remove distractions. People tend to eat more when they are not paying attention to each bite that goes into their mouth. When televisions, cell phones and computers are holding your attention, you might miss your hunger cues. You will overeat instead of stopping when you are satisfied.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Eat throughout the day. You might feel the urge to skimp on meals early in the day so you can indulge in a larger meal in the evening. Eating smaller meals more frequently helps keep your energy level more consistent and will help you avoid overeating when you feel like you are starving.

For more great tips on mindful eating, click here and here.

What step will you take this week towards mindful eating? Maybe you’ll start by making homemade chicken tenders instead of opting for the fast food version.

I was a bit skeptical when I first read through this recipe. I thought for sure my kids would give it two thumbs down. I was pleasantly surprised when they asked for seconds. I hope your family is just as pleased. Enjoy!

Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.

This article originally appeared May 5, 2022 on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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