It is important to view mindful eating as moving your diet in a healthier direction and by making incremental changes over time. Here are some tips to get you started.
The 80/20 Rule
For myself and my wellness clientele, I have found that the 80/20 rule works well.
- 80% of your diet is comprised of healthy whole foods.
- 20% of your diet is comprised of not so healthy foods. This is the time when you can indulge in a craving or an old favorite (like Grandma’s homemade mac and cheese).
Creating a Healthy Plate
Focus on filling your plate as follows:
- ½ plate: non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc.)
- ¼ plate: lean protein
- ¼ plate: yellow carbs (ex. rice) and a little fat (such as a tablespoon of olive oil)
Mindful Eating Tips:
- Declutter your diet. Do this by limiting sugar, white flour, processed foods, and alcohol consumption. These are the items that can be left for the 20% (“not so healthy foods”) of our diet.
- Strive to avoid mindless snacking. We often just snack when we are bored or even confuse our thirst for hunger. If you are looking for a snack, try drinking some water and wait 10 minutes to see if you were actually hungry or just thirsty. Women, on average, need 9 cups of water per day (2.2 liters) and men need 13 cups of water per day (3 liters). If you do choose to snack, choose healthier options in moderation. Protein and fiber keep you more satiated so, for example, choose hummus and vegetables or almond butter and an apple.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. Eat without the distraction of the TV or social media. Eat at the kitchen table and put your fork down between bites. It takes our bodies longer to realize that we are actually full so when we eat slowly and mindfully we might realize we are full and end up consuming fewer calories.
- Learn to recognize your physiological hunger and fullness cues. Eat until you are 80% full.
- Normalize eating habits. Keep scheduled mealtimes and plan meals. Stocking up on healthy options at both home and work will help to keep you on track.
- Hold yourself accountable. Track your food intake in a journal or an app such as MyFitnessPal. Sometimes we don’t even realize how poorly we are eating until we see it in front of us. Keep notes on how different foods affect you, for example, which foods make you feel energized and which foods upset your stomach. Be aware of your food choices and the nutritional value of your meals.
If you are just starting off on your health journey, using some of these tips will help you to get the ball rolling.