Diet Tips Truth or Myth: Eat Mindfully

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In the second installment of post on my thoughts about a recent Family Circle on old and new dieting rules, I want to look at eating mindfully.  FC says this is a myth.  The reason being that it is time consuming and requires great self-control.

People end up feeling bad about themselves because they think they don’t have any willpower.” – Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

The “new rule” is to plan and make your environment “user-friendly” by doing things like: eating your meals on a smaller plate (10-in. diameter), portioning out single servings of snacks and weighing and measuring most foods, leaving typically low-calorie fruits and veggies for eating with less abandon.

I completely agree.  Chewing every bit a dozen times, savoring the meal?  What busy mom has time for that.  We’re lucky to be able to scarf down our meals before somebody is wanting us to fix them a second helping or another drink.

We, as Americans, have a greatly distorted view of portions.  A huge plate of pasta is “one serving” while a tiny helping of fruit is “one serving.”  I know that when I weigh and measure my foods, I’m often shocked at what a serving really is.  When I eat a bowl of cereal, it’s always closer to two servings than one, for example.

What about mindless eating from the bag of chips?  Oh, that could be my downfall if I let it.  Portioning out single-serving sizes of snacks is a great idea – even for the kids, who don’t need to be overeating that kind of stuff anymore than we do.  Do I portion out things like that now?  No – just keepin’ it real – but I think it’s a good idea and I know I need to seriously consider doing so.

So, what do you think?  Eat mindfully, savoring your food or go on the offensive and plan for better eating choices?

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  1. I say a bit of both. One thing I'm trying to change is the mindset that I don't have the time to slow down and eat my food joyfully. We've created this reality where we must always go go go go go. I hate that. So…mealtime is a precious time. When I catch myself eating too quickly. I put my fork down and rest for a moment.

    But with the other things – I think that's a no brainer, too. I don't go for the smaller plate thing. I don't want to teach my kids that a portion is a plate size, no matter what size the plate is. I have measuring spoons for serving pasta & we use them. I teach my kids what a serving is & we stick to our servings. We count out snacks, etc.

    I think it's the responsible way to teach your children how much to eat. But again – I'm not going to play the "smaller plate" mind game. Besides, I like my plates!

  2. Shan,

    Great point about plate size! I don't do the smaller plate think either because, like you, I like my plates. It was a suggestion from FC, but I thought it was a good one until I read your point. You're absolutely right. A portion is a portion, no matter what size plate it's on and that is something we need to learn and teach our kids.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. I agree with you. On one hand, it would be nice to be able to sit and quietly savor every bite, but, when reality hits, there are meals when I am blessed to remember that I ate at all because it was so interrupted. I weigh and measure. I also eat lunch after my kids most days. I get them settled and happy and then I am more likely to have fewer interruptions while I'm eating my own meal. That doesn't work as well at other meals, but it's nice for lunchtime.

    Interesting comment about smaller plates. I never thought about that concept teaching our kids that a plate is a serving. Good thoughts!

  4. We often use the salad plates for meals, but that's not a "trick" really, we just do because we're having something that doesn't require dinner plates. (Ex: tonight is pizza, so we will use the smaller plates.) Whether we use the salad plates or not, we portion out servings onto the plates, not simply fill them up. I don't have a scale to weigh, but I do measure. I like the measured cup scoops for that (bought at Target, in the dollar section, I think).

    As for eating mindfully … here are a few things that I have done/changed:

    I don't eat standing up. At all. If I'm not sitting to ENJOY it, I wait. I used to eat lunch (and occasionally DINNER) in between doing things for other people. No more!

    Once I sit down to eat, I don't get up again until I'm done. No interruptions. (My children are 9 and 12, so they are more independent than, say, toddlers would be.) Before I sit, I give last call ~ lol ~ "does anyone need anything before I start eating?"

    I portion out things for the day. I have been keeping a divided serving plate of bite size foods (pickles, blueberries, Ezekiel bread cut into 1 inch squares, grapes, cucumbers …) with a small cup of toothpicks beside it. Mostly healthy stuff. We DID have junk mixed in (Sun Chips, Doritos) this week because we had them left from my daughter's birthday party. Those are blessedly gone now. That snack plate is for the random "I need a snack!" feeling that we all get on occasion. If it's in front of me, I'm more likely to eat that rather than rummage for something less healthy. I think my children are the same. Plus, it's a huge help that I don't have to interrupt whatever I'm doing to get something out. It's done and ready. I get it ready while I'm making breakfast, so it's done when we start school work.

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