Eating Healthy or Healthy Eating?

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Written by Bonnie Huang

As school is about to commence, students may already be overwhelmed and hauled into a hectic schedule within the first week. There are classes to prepare for, people to meet, events and meetings to go to, and work to do.

This means that taking some quality time out for eating may be compromised. Although eating healthy means eating a balanced diet, how we eat, or healthy eating, is just as important.

Tips to keep in mind the next time you eat

  • Limit the distractions – this means television watching, going on the computer, playing with your phone, reading, and doing anything else while you are eating. “Multi-tasking” during mealtime means mindless eating, which makes it easier for you to eat faster and more.
  • Slow down – It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that you are full. Eating slower gives enough time for the signal to reach the brain. If you are short on time, then eat something small, and have something more later on.
  • Plan your meals in advance – this could mean packing your meals or thinking of what you are going to eat ahead of time. If you try to decide when you are hungry, then you will likely indulge in the more ‘tasteful’ foods, which are often higher in starch and in calories. By planning your meals, you could be equally satisfied and also ensure that you eat a more balanced and nutrient-dense meal.
  • Be aware of your emotions and find ways to cope with them – many people have a habit of eating when they are depressed, anxious, stressed, bored, etc. Be attentive to your body’s cues and signals and ask yourself if you are really hungry before you eat. If you are not and it is your emotions that are causing the desire for food, try different ways to cope.
  • Put down your utensils between bites – if your mouth is full and you have a spoonful waiting for you, then you subconsciously prompt yourself to eat faster so that you can eat that spoonful. Fill your mouth, put down your utensil, and just chew and pay attention to what you are eating.

At home

  • Keep counters clear of treat foods and put out nutrient dense items – this way, if you are itching to put something into your mouth, it won’t be detrimental to your health.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, and cups – kitchenware companies have created fancy and oversized kitchenware, prompting restaurants and households to serve more food onto plates and into bowls and cups than really necessary. This encourages us to eat more as we try to clear the dish. Downsize your serving dishes and you will find that your stomach will still be satisfied.
  • Eat in a nice atmosphere – research has shown that when people eat in a fine-dining area surrounded by dim lights and soft music, they consumed less food, were less likely to order more food, and found the food more enjoyable, than when people eat in a dining area with bright lights and loud music. While this tip might be more practical at home, the bottom line is that a slow-paced and calm atmosphere can help you enjoy your food experience, so that you can appropriately listen to the hunger and satiety cues in your body. If you cannot find such a place where you are, then try to create it in your mind by zoning out the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere you are in.

As with all lifestyle habits, they are difficult to change and take some time. Try accommodating these tips into your lifestyle, one at a time, in order to help yourself work towards creating mindful eating environments.

Here’s to a healthy and happy school year!

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