Mind Over Matter: Manage Your Weight Through Mindful Eating

Have you ever sat down in front of the television with a bowl of chips while watching your favorite show, only to look down during the commercial break to see that all the food is gone? What’s worse is you find yourself walking into the kitchen to get something else because you still feel like your craving has not been satisfied.

This is an example of mindless eating, in which we don’t pay attention to what we are eating. To protect yourself from this practice, Erin Zepp, a registered dietitian with Memorial’s Weight Loss & Wellness Center (WLWC) suggests adopting a “mindful eating” habit.

“Mindful eating is the practice of paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking by savoring the flavor and smell and noting the temperature and texture of the food. This means we are not performing other activities while we are eating, such as watching television, lying in bed relaxing, playing video games, surfing the net or talking on the phone,” Zepp said. “Mindful eating cannot be practiced while multitasking or doing other activities, as this distracts us from listening to our body’s hunger and fullness cues. When we eat mindfully, we are able to note how eating affects our emotions and how our feelings affect our eating.”

Mindful eating allows you to gain control over what you eat and how much you eat based on hunger and fullness. It does not require you to buy special foods or deprive yourself of your favorite things, but will teach you a healthy way of living for life.

Practice mindful eating:

  • Know when you are physically hungry and full. We are all born with the ability to recognize these feelings. If you are not sure, start keeping a journal of your physical feelings before and after meals to identify what this feels like.
  • Sit at a table when it is time to eat. Do not eat on the couch while watching TV or in your bed while reading. Stay away from the computer when eating as well. You should not be doing anything else or you will not pay attention to your body.
  • Take at least 20-30 minutes to finish your meal. It takes your brain 20 minutes to send the signal to your belly that you are full. If you finish your meal in 5-10 minutes, you will likely go for seconds because you will still feel hungry. This will lead to eating more than you actually need.
  • Do not be a member of the clean-plate club. Listen to your body and stop eating when your body tells you it is full, not when the plate is empty.
  • Savor the flavor, aroma, temperature, appearance and texture of your food. Put your fork down between bites. Take small bites of food. This will help you to actually taste what you are eating. If you decide you do not like it, then go for something else. There is no reason to eat something you do not truly enjoy just for the sake of eating.
  • Lose your dieter’s mentality. When practicing mindful eating, there are no foods that are off limits. Do not let the “food police” in your head try to dictate what you will eat. Balance and moderation are key when making healthy food choices.

Peanut Butter Cookie Overnight Oatmeal

½ cup rolled oats
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
2 tablespoons PB2
1 packet of Splenda or another sugar substitute

      1. Place oats, yogurt, milk, PB2, and sugar substitute in a tight fitting container and mix.
      2. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
      3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before eating. Your may eat it cold or heat it up in the microwave.

Note: This recipe makes 1 serving.
Nutritional Information: 286 calories, 18 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber

For other WLWC recipes, click here.