Are you the first one to finish dinner? Do you gulp down food and find you are left with gas and indigestion? Eating more slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food more, it also allows time for the messages that you are getting full to reach your brain before you overeat. People who eat more slowly tend to have healthier body weights.
Here are some simple nutrition tips to help you slow down at meal time.
Assess your Hunger and Fullness: Before you start eating, determine how hungry you feel. Feel that feeling of hunger and then check in on yourself part way through the meal. If you are feeling satisfied or almost satisfied, it’s just about time to stop eating. Just being mindful during the meal will naturally slow you down. This way it’s no surprise, it will be up to you to choose to eat until you are satisfied or stuffed. What do you think you will choose?
Pause Between Mouthfuls: Put down your fork in between bites and don’t prepare the food on your fork until you swallow the last bite. You will be amazed at the extra conversation that flows when people don’t constantly have food in their mouths.
Get Rid of Distractions: Turn off the TV, turn away from the computer and avoid social media while you eat. Take the mental break that you deserve. The more you pay attention to your food the more you will notice how it looks, tastes and smells (good or bad). You will also notice your hunger level and will avoid just eating mindlessly because you are pre-occupied. I know some parents of picky eaters who thought feeding their kids in front of the TV was a great way to shovel food into them without them noticing or being picky. Guess what, now the kids are struggling with their weight and they have a bad habit of eating in front of the TV. Don’t do it!
Drink Water: Having a glass of water before you even start eating is a great way to fill your tummy if you are feeling ravenous. During the pauses between mouthfuls (while your cutlery is down), have a few sips of water. Don’t do this with milk or juice, water will help fill you up without all the calories.
Set a minimum time for dinner: If you have kids that tend to eat quickly and run off to do something else, consider setting a time, such as 15 minutes, where everyone is requested to stay at the table. This way, the slower kids won’t feel rushed and leave too early, only to come back saying they are hungry an hour later. Leave the vegetables and salad on the table so for those that maybe still have room, the healthy stuff is readily available.
Play some music. Eating to music, particularly calming music can improve mood and reduce anxiety. It can also keep you company if eating alone.
Have conversation: Family meals are a great way to catch up on news, share stories, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Avoid conversation about the food or who is or isn’t eating certain things. Keep it positive. (Compliments to the chef are always welcome).