Often when we think about eating healthier, we think of the latest diet trends or costly specialty foods. But there are easy ways to be more mindful of what you eat without spending extra money or time.
1. Sit down
Eating or snacking on-the-go can lead to unhealthy choices, or to eating more food than you need. The simple act of sitting down tells your mind to stop and appreciate the food you’re about to eat. (And, no, eating while sitting in the car doesn’t count.)
2. Drink a glass of water before a meal
Drink 8 ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes before you eat. It’s free, easy, and will make you less likely to overeat or bloat.
3. Swap out 1 item each time you grocery shop
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to eat more healthily is to change everything at once. That doesn’t work — but gradual change does. Try swapping out one item on your grocery list for a healthier alternative on each trip:
- Get ground turkey instead of ground beef for spaghetti to cut down on cholesterol
- Try a leafy spring mix for your salads rather than nutrient-light iceberg
- Buy whole wheat pasta or bread to boost your fiber intake
Going little-by-little makes the adjustment easier, and it may also help get picky family members on board with healthy changes.
4. Stop eating in front of screens
This one is easier said than done, but there’s no getting around the fact that distracted eating is not good for you, and screens are one of our top distractors. Some studies show that up to 72% of people would rather watch TV while they eat than sit around the table and talk.
The small steps approach works here too: Pick one night a week to eat dinner device-free. You may be surprised how much everyone in the family will enjoy it.
5. Wait 10 minutes before getting seconds
You may have heard this one before, but there’s a reason for that: it’s one of the best ways to prevent overeating. It can take a full 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full, so wait that long if you can. If you can’t, 10 minutes should be long enough for your body to gauge whether you’re still hungry.
6. Put your fork down
Next time you eat a meal, notice whether you set your fork down between bites. If you don’t, try to start. When we’re constantly shoveling food between the plate and our mouths, we’re speeding through the act of eating, rather than stopping to enjoy it. If you put your utensil down between bites, you’re more likely to take a sip of water, talk with your friends or family, or even just enjoy a few moments of silence.
7. Dish it up
You eat with your eyes first, and you can make that work for you when it comes to eating mindfully. If you’re having a frozen meal for lunch, transfer it to your favorite bowl. If you brought a sandwich from home, take the time to put it on a plate. Instead of grabbing a whole box of crackers for a snack, pull out a single portion and put it in a small dish or on a pretty plate.
Plating something mindfully does 3 things:
- It makes you aware of how much you’re eating
- The smaller serving dish may help your mind recognize fullness faster, and
- It heightens your enjoyment of the whole eating experience, which makes for a more satisfying meal.