Losing Weight Through Mindful Eating and Portion Control
With extreme dieting approaches ranging from liquid-only diets to eating 30 bananas in a day, many are just about fed up with weight loss plans that demand too much. In truth, a few simple approaches could be all you need to lose weight, keep it off and get healthier all around. They all tend to fall under the umbrella of “mindful eating.”
Before you scoff at “mindful eating” as another new-age fad diet, recognize that the concept: A) makes more sense than it sounds and B) actually works! A study of individuals who were in the 90th percentile for BMI found that mindful eating practices helped them lose more weight than a group just given typical nutrition and exercise information.
Mindful eating practices include savoring your food’s flavors while slowing the pace of eating. They also help you develop recognition of triggers that make you want to binge eat as well as signs of fullness that many of us regularly ignore.
Proper mindful eating tracks every stage of your consumption habits, starting at the grocery store and staying with you until you take the last bite. Learn some of these practices and start your journey towards a healthier you — no fad diets needed! — by reading on.
Start by Rethinking Your Grocery List
Your first step to mindful eating is to consider food items that set you back from your weight loss goals. You will want to cut as many of them as possible from your grocery list.
Sit down and take a second to consider foods that are the most difficult to control when eating. These likely include snacks like bagged chips, pre-made baked goods, ice cream, crackers and other such items. Products like these share traits in that they can be eaten without any preparation and have indeterminable portion sizes, meaning it is nearly impossible to tell how much you have eaten when consuming them straight from the packaging.
If you still want to include some of these items on your grocery list but reduce their use overall, you can also try the following techniques:
- Reduce the number of items you buy at a time, such as getting only one type of snack food for the week. Studies show that having more options makes us want to eat more.
- Immediately take all of the food out of the packaging and place it into measured, portioned baggies or tupperwares. Set a goal to eat only one portion per day.
- Try finding substitutes for ready-to-eat snacks, like buying potatoes for making your own chips at home as opposed to eating some from a bag.
Change the Way You Prepare Your Food
Many times, the way we cook our food affects our nutrition more than the food itself. Case in point: deep frying foods breaded in fat or oil adds around 90-100 calories compared to other methods. Instead of pan frying or deep frying foods, try:
- Braising them in liquid on the stove or in the oven
- Stir-frying (which uses less oil)
You should also try to measure and reduce the amount of added salt, oil, fat and sugar you include in foods. You can often improve the flavor compared to what these components add using citrus, fresh green herbs, savory spices and more.
Think Carefully About Plate Portioning
The ideal plate is filled up halfway with non-starchy fruits and veggies. These include greens, crunchy veggies like carrots or bell peppers, and certain legumes.
If you can learn how to cook and enjoy veggie sides, then filling up half your plate with them will seem like a joy rather than a burden. Take a look at this recipe for quick curried vegetables to see how easy it is to make delicious, mouth-watering vegetable sides.
Then, a quarter of your plate should consist of starchy vegetables or whole grains, like potatoes, corn, beans, quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Another quarter should be lean protein, like chicken breast, lean pork or fish. You can review portioning recommendations from resources like www.choosemyplate.gov.
Savor Every Bite
Another component of mindful eating requires you to focus on what happens after your food leaves the fork. Research shows that savoring the flavors of your food, chewing slowly, and waiting longer to take the next bite can reduce your appetite and increase feelings of satiety overall.
Also, try to pay attention to the signs that say you are full. Remember, you can always cover your plate in foil and eat the rest in an hour or so, which helps you digest slower and consume less overall. Get rid of distractions like TV shows or electronics that can cause you to miss these signs while you eat.
By cutting down on certain foods you buy, changing up your cooking habits, plating food with proper portions, and focusing on actually enjoying your meal, you can develop habits that lead to weight loss and better health over time. Get started by taking a look at some of our mouth-watering cooking demonstrations!