I’m not a big believer in counting calories. I do think that it is important to be MINDFUL of how you eat, but counting calories makes anyone trying to be healthy feel like they are on a diet. Who wants to be on a diet? No one. Mindful eating, however, allows you to enjoy the foods you eat, while staying aware of how you feel so that you don’t over-eat. Here are a few ways to be proactively mindful, which in turn will help you to reduce your caloric intake, without the need for a calculator!
1. One Plateful – One Time: Many eaters rely on visual cues, such as an empty plate, to decide when to stop eating. Cornell University researcher Dr. Brian Wansink created a bottomless soup bowl, which secretly refilled during a meal. He found that diners eating from the refillable bowl ate 73 percent more soup than diners who ate from a normal bowl.
What can you do? Eating one plateful will help you to eat less. Further, forgo buffets and “bottomless” items on menus when eating out. If eating family style, only fill your plate once!
2. Eat off a Smaller Plate: Dr. Brian Wansink also found that plate size matters. By reducing plate size diameter from 12 to 10 inches, people ate 22 percent fewer calories. Funny enough, in 1985, average plate size WAS 10″. Over time, our plates have increased in size!
What you can do: Measure your plates at home. How big are they? If they are more than 10 inches, consider finding new plates to eat off of OR use a plate that is 10″ as a guide to fill your plates with food. Stay within the 10″ diameter! You’ll get used to the visual cue once you have done this enough. Also, consider joining the Small Plate Challenge, which asks consumers to use a 10-inch plate for their biggest meals. http://www.smallplatemovement.org
3. Eat Small Meals, often: Instead of three large meals a day…breakfast, lunch and dinner…decrease portion sizes and allocate some of the food for snacks. You will spread what would normally be three meals into five. Doing so will help you eat smaller meals, stave off hunger throughout the day and keep you feeling satisfied and energized.
What you can do: Here’s a good schedule to try:
- Breakfast: 7:30am to 8:30am
- Morning Snack: 10:00am to 11:00am
- Lunch: 12:30pm to 1:30pm
- Afternoon Snack: 3:00pm to 4:00pm
- Dinner: 6:00pm to 7:00pm
4. Pre-Plate Your Food: Cornell University Food and Brand Lab researchers found that people who pre-plated their food ate approximately 14 percent less than those who took smaller amounts and returned for seconds and thirds.
What you can do: Pre-plate your meals or snacks before you start eating so that you have a visual stopping point. Avoid eating chips straight out of the bag or ice cream from the carton.
Adapted from “GET REAL” and STOP Dieting! Copyright © 2009 by Brett Blumenthal. All rights reserved.
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