Numerous evidence-based studies have been published discussing mindful eating as an essential weight loss tool. By eating mindfully, you can teach yourself to eat less, eat more wholesomely and feel more satisfied after meals. Practicing mindful eating can be personalized to your liking. Here are five great ways to get you started.

It begins way before you even sit down

Mindful eating starts with the contents of your shopping cart. By stocking your home and/or workplace with good-for-you food choices, you’re already one step closer to mindful eating. How does that work? Have you ever opened the cabinet to reach for say, some high fiber crackers, and instead are met with the glossy wrapper of Chips Ahoy! cookies? If yes, then you know that part of your mind will now linger on the cookies, even if you still manage to walk away with the high fiber crackers in hand. Easily replace that wishful sigh by always having wholesome foods up-front and center.

Be hungry, but not too hungry

One of the most recognized aspects of mindful eating is eating only when you’re hungry. Recognize that food is a great distraction when you’re bored, but luckily there are other, healthier, ways to occupy your mind: walking, reading, socializing with friends. On the flip side, it’s important not to get to the point of “I’m STARVING” before you sit down for meal, since you’re sure to end up eating more than you normally would. Here at F-Factor, we encourage healthy snacks between meals to hold you over.

Time is of the essence

Taking time out of your day to eat a proper meal is crucial. In today’s fast-paced society, the demand for easy on-the-go meals are all the rave. Nevertheless, it takes at least 20 minutes for your body to realize you’re getting full. Sitting down with a fork and knife is the ideal, but if that’s out of the question, even your grab and go options can be conducive to mindful eating. Choose snacks that take time to eat. Clementines and pistachios (with the shell on) are two great high-fiber options that will slow you down, giving you time to think about the food you’re eating.

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Portion it out

Keeping serving dishes of food on the dinner table provides easy access for everyone at the table, but it can make eating mindfully more challenging. With food within arm’s reach, it’s easy to reach for more…and more. When serving family style, portion out all your food onto your plate before you start eating. Take notice of the amount of food you need in order to satiate your hunger and walk away feeling full. This way, if you’re still eyeing that second helping, you can visualize what you have already eaten.

Engage your inner food critic

Consider it your second day job. Channeling your inner food critic may be just the right thing to get you to slow down and take notice of your food intake. As you eat, you want to try to pinpoint at least 2-3 flavors that you can taste. How do the flavors complement each other? Whatever you want your focus to be, make it your new meal-time habit.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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