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6 Mindful Eating Tips


Below you’ll find the first installment of my four-part National Nutrition Month series. Enjoy!

Nutritious eating shouldn’t just be about the foods you choose; it should also be about enjoying food and the eating experience. Because many of us are super busy with work and school and a mile-long daily to-do list, eating mindfully is often the last thing on your mind. To help you get in better touch with the eating experience, here are six tips from some top registered dietitian nutritionists:

Put the “how” before the “what.” “It’s important to focus on changing how you eat before even thinking about changing what you eat,” says registered dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell (pictured below). According to the author of Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week, “Studies show that people are more satisfied and eat less when they eat mindfully—think: sitting down at a table, eating off a plate rather than out of a box/bag, and without distractions such as the TV or cell phone.”

 

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Reconnect your stomach and your brain. According to Mindy Hermann, MBA, RDN, “Babies and young children have a natural ability to want to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. Their stomach senses that it’s full and their brain listens. But as they get older, outside factors such as pressure to finish their meal, frequent snacking, and oversized portions at restaurants can interrupt the stomach-brain connection. And that can last through childhood and into adulthood.” To help restore the conversation, Hermann (pictured below) suggests the following: to start with smaller portions; to encourage all family members to eat more slowly and enjoy every bite; and to pay attention to when you’ve eaten enough, and put down the fork. Win-win strategies to eat well and feel satisfied after meals, don’t you think?

 

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Pay attention. According to registered dietitian nutritionist Tara Collingwood (pictured below), co-author of Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies, “Too often we eat out of habit. We eat everything on our plates. We grab a cookie or piece of chocolate if it’s there. We eat the rice on the plate when we don’t even really like it all that much. We grab a piece of bread from the bread basket because we are bored and starving waiting for our meal to come. Ask yourself before you automatically grab it whether you really want or need it.”

 

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Make calories count. Instead of counting calories, Bedwell suggests making your calories count. “Rather than obsessing over numbers, focus on choosing foods that will provide a variety of nutritional benefits, such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This changes the mindset from what you “can’t” eat to what you “can” eat,” she says.

Picture your plate. Collingwood suggests having a visual of what your plate should look like can guide you to better choices. She says, “I try to follow the guideline of filling half of my plate with fruits/veggies, and then splitting the rest of the plate with lean protein and grains (preferably whole grains).

Keep it positive. According to Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD, it’s important to focus on what to add rather than what to take off of your plate. She says, “It sounds so basic, but it makes all the difference in the world in your entire mindset about eating.” Lemond suggests adding to your plate a variety of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes. “These foods make your body work to provide immediate and long-term health benefits,” says Lemond (pictured below).

 

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Image of Bedwell via Ron Manville; image of Hermann via Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images; and image of Lemond via The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, click here. To find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area, click here.

 

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

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