What is mindful eating?

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A recent Canstar Blue survey of 1,198 New Zealanders found that just over one quarter of respondents – 26% – feel less guilty about their food choices if they take multivitamins. Presumably a type of Yin Yang mindset. But while there are no doubt many good reasons to take a regular multivitamin supplement, balancing out bad food choices probably shouldn’t be one of them. Mindful eating could be a better option.

What?

catleriesWell, there’s fast food, there’s convenience food, there’s the slow food revolution – there is also mindful food? Or more specifically, mindful eating. Reassuringly, it boils down to simply being aware of what you’re eating and taking the time to enjoy the taste. Even better, it can help you lose weight. Nice!

According to a recent survey of 175 Accredited Practising Dietitians in Australia, almost 60 per cent are planning to fine tune eating habits by being more mindful in 2015. That’s a large proportion!

“Research is now showing that ‘mindful eating’ is a key part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight,” explained Professor Clare Collins, Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia and Accredited Practising Dietitian. “The aim of mindful eating is to learn to slow down so that you appreciate the food you’re eating – the texture, smell and taste, by making the most of each bite. Another key principle is being aware of the kilojoules you’re taking in so that you are able to make informed choices about what you eat.

“By consistently eating in this way, it becomes easier to stop after a couple of pieces of chocolate or a small slice of your favourite cake. You actually feel satisfied, which stops you from overeating. It also helps you work out when you may be stressed rather than hungry.”

Top tips for mindful eating:

If eating mindfully is on your list of things to do this year, Professor Collins has outlined the following tips to get you started. And once you start, it will hopefully become an automatic way of life.

  • eating manEat slowly and savour the flavour of foods
  • Choose mostly good-for-you, nourishing core foods, like fruit and vegetables
  • Plan ahead so that you have the ingredients you ned for healthy meals on hand.
  • Make meals that require some preparation, and enjoy the process of cooking
  • Become aware of hunger before you automatically eat in response to non-food reasons
  • Sit down to eat at the dining table, rather than on the go or in the lounge room
  • Eat with family or friends (and turn off the TV at meal times!)
  • Select plates and cutlery to use that make meal times feel special
  • Practise remembering what you ate yesterday.
  • Become aware of what is in the food you eat by reading food labels and comparing products.

How much weight should you lose?

While mindful eating can help you lose weight, it’s a gradual (and hopefully permanent) process. Amy Liu, a NZ Registered Dietitian and founder of Metro Consultancy Ltd says that a healthy and realistic weight loss target is one kilo or less per week. “Aim for 0.5-1kg per week,” she says. “But remember to review your progress with your dietitian as you might need to rethink your goals as you lose weight.”

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