Mindful Eating and Portion Control

Do you remember what you ate for breakfast? How about last night’s dinner? Eating is becoming a subconscious act, similar to breathing, we do it every day but our focus is often on other things. We chew and swallow without really tasting our food or we focus on the next bite before enjoying the current one. Many watch television or fiddle with their phone, keeping their attention away from their meal. This can contribute to overeating and weight problems. Think about it. Have you ever mindlessly shoveled in an entire bag of chips or ½ a tub of ice cream while watching a movie?women enjoying a snack
Mindfully savoring your food can be a great tool for portion control. Not only will you be paying attention to your food but also to your body. Are you still hungry or are you satisfied? Follow the tips below to begin your mindful eating practice.

  1. Start with small portions. Choose smaller bowls and plates.
  2. Use all your senses. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, pay attention to color, texture, smell, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try to taste all of the ingredients.
  3. Take small bites. It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full.
  4. Put your fork down between bites. The act of setting your fork down forces you to focus on chewing your food rather than letting yourself mindlessly pick at your plate for your next bite.
  5. Eat in silence. Minimize distractions and make sure you’re eating in a calm environment. Close your eyes if you find your thoughts racing to other things.
  6. Focus on finding the sweet spot between hungry and full. Pay attention to how you feel during the meal and how long you stay satisfied after eating. Eventually, you will get more comfortable understanding your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.  

By Laura Harkins, EFNEP Intern

© 2024 North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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