We’re not paying attention, which may be why we’re putting on pounds. Do you look at your food as you’re eating it, or are your eyes glued to the computer screen, the TV, your phone or the color formula you’re mixing?
A handful of studies conducted in the past few years indicate that weight gain may be partly linked to what’s been labeled as “distracted eating.” We not only eat less but enjoy it more when we actually pay attention to our food—look at the colors, take a second to smell the aromas before putting the food into our mouth, chew slowly and savor every bite. Conversation seems to be an exception and is not considered distracted eating; studies show that weight is easier to control when you sit down to have dinner with the family even if there’s lively discussion.
Kicking some of your worst eating habits and reducing your total day’s calorie intake may be as simple as replacing distracted eating with its opposite, called “eating mindfully.” Dr. Howard LeWine, a Harvard University health blogger suggests taking six steps to force yourself to pay attention to the act of eating:
- Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
- Use chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.
- Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
- Take small bites and chew well.
- Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Do something else, like reading or going on a short walk.
Healthy Hairdresser will add these:
- Introduce new, interesting foods into your diet. Think about how they look, smell and taste.
- Mix up your routine by changing the time or place you normally eat.
- Mix up your food combinations and sequences to stop the cycle of one food leading to the next.
- Portion out your snacks before you start eating. Bring baggies with you to the salon, and at home pour the snack into a bowl and put the bag away.
- Educate your kids about what you’re serving and why. Teach them how to cook. It will force you to take accountability for everything you eat and give to them.
Food isn’t something we can just give up. It’s meant to be enjoyed, so give it the attention it deserves!
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