Not what you eat, but how you eat it

Last updated 10:13 24/04/2014

MINDFUL OR JUST PLAIN RAVENOUS? How we eat is just as important as what we eat.

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While we spend plenty of time considering what we are eating, we tend to spend far less time considering the way we eat.

Do you sit down and enjoy your meals and snacks or do you constantly find yourself eating on the run? Do you so quickly that you barely chew your food 'Homer Simpson' style, or do you make a concerted effort to eat slowly and mindfully?

Simply spending a little more time considering how you consume your calories each day could be all that you need to improve your nutrition.

Just eat slowly

There are many reasons why you may be a slow or fast eater - it may it the way you were taught or because you are always in a hurry.

You may simply do most things in your life quickly or slowly, but when it comes to eating, the more slowly you do it, the better it is for your weight and for your digestion.

As it takes between 15-20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full, aiming to take at least 20 minutes to finish a meal is a good starting point when it comes to regulating your appetite.

Always sit without distraction to eat

A recent study in the eating behaviour journal Appetite found that study participants ate more at afternoon tea when they had eaten their lunch while watching Days of Our Lives.

It is thought that remaining 100 per cent focused when we eat our meals plays a powerful role in our self-regulation of intake throughout the day.

So try and turn the TV off or put the smartphone down to enjoy your meals with single-minded focus.

No food in the car

Busy lives mean that we are often eating on the run, but eating in the car is an issue for several reasons.

First of all, the types of snacks we eat in the car - coffee, bars and snacks tend to be low in nutrients and also not counted as part of our total daily calorie intake.

Most importantly, eating in the car means that we are generally not taking in food that has the right nutritional balance of a meal that we require to optimally regulate our appetite.

Put your knife and fork down

Another study published in Appetite found that when study participants were asked to put their knife and fork down in between each mouthful, and to chew each mouthful 20-30x, that they consumed 10 per cent fewer calories than faster eaters.

So, slow down and reduce your calorie intake without even noticing.

Three square meals

Sometimes you hear that small regular meals are best for metabolism and others that less is more.

The good thing about sticking to three main meals a day is that the meals then tend to have a better nutritional balance.

Often when regular snacks are encouraged, the caloric values of the snacks become very similar to that of a meal, and hence it is easy to eat too much.

Aim for at least 3-4 hours in between your meals to allow your digestive hormones to return to baseline levels, and only include a snack or two if your days are particularly long and you have breakfast early.

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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