Stop Eating on Autopilot

Not paying attention to your food or constantly multitasking while you eat could be making you fat. Learn easy ways to tune in to your body’s cues and enjoy more mindful mealtimes.

Mindful eating (also known as intentional or intuitive eating) helps us reconnect with our experience of eating and enjoying our food. By paying greater attention to what, how and why we are eating, we can break free from routine habits that may be impeding our health or weight loss goals. Mindfulness even boosts our body’s ability to decipher signals when we are full or hungry.

Research shows that changing our mealtime rituals and attitudes may be just as important as what we actually consume. Shifting our eating practices doesn’t have to be costly or complicated; it can be as simple as just sitting down at a table. Start with a few small changes, including:

Check in
Before grabbing a snack, pause to reflect on how you feel. How hungry are you on a scale of one to 10? People frequently eat out of stress or boredom, not actual hunger. Becoming more aware of your body’s physical cues and emotional motivations can aid you in making better choices.

Slow down
How often do you feel so rushed that you wolf down a meal in five minutes? Stop and really notice the texture, color and taste of your food. Take time to savor flavors. Try putting down your utensils after each bite and chewing 30 times to promote digestion.

Ditch the digital distractions
Distracted eating leads to mindless eating. If you want to eat less and have your food taste better, turn off electronics. Checking your smartphone or watching TV during dinner can make you less aware of what and how much you are consuming. Ambiance, sound and lighting all impact your dining experience.

Minimize multitasking
We all multitask. Sometimes eating while working at your desk (yes, 65% of us do it) or in your vehicle is unavoidable. However, when you are not focused on what you are eating, food doesn’t taste as good, you crave stronger flavors and miss your body’s satiety cues.

The bottom line: make eating a priority and not a side task. When it’s time to eat, give yourself permission to sit down, enjoy and just eat.

Try this mindful eating exercise the next time you sit down to eat.