If you find yourself feeling out of control around certain foods and have difficulty stopping eating until you’re uncomfortably full, consider serving yourself a smaller amount of food. This can provide a useful check-in point to assess your hunger, fullness, and satisfaction signals.
If you’re still hungry, you can always go back for more. It’s important to not restrict yourself if you truly want more. However, you may find that by eating more mindfully and paying attention to your internal cues, a smaller amount may satisfy you.
For example, if you are worried you’re going to overeat a food such as chips, consider putting a smaller amount of chips in a cup or napkin, versus eating out of the family-size bag. Before going back for more, rate yourself on the 1-10 hunger/fullness scale and notice what comes up for you, without judgment.
Here is a step-by-step guide to eating mindfully:
Step 1: Select a time to eat your meal or snack when you won’t be distracted. Be sure you have adequate time to eat so that you are not rushed. Consider turning off the ringer on your phone and other devices.
Step 2: Try taking a couple of deep breaths before you start eating.
Step 3: Take note of your initial hunger level. On the 1-10 hunger/fullness scale, rate your hunger level before you start eating.
Step 4: Before taking your first bite, notice the visual appeal of the food. Observe the color, shape, and anything else that stands out to you.
Step 5: Take in the aroma of the food. What does the food smell like? Perhaps hints of vanilla, chocolate, citrus, or spice? Is the scent subtle or strong? Just notice.
Step 6: As you start to enjoy your first bites of food, notice the textures, mouthfeel, and sound of the food as you take a bite and chew. Is it smooth? Rough? Sharp? Soft? Crumbly? Sticky? Moist? As you chew it, is it crunchy? Dull? Slurpy? Just notice; there’s no right or wrong.
Step 7: Consider how the food tastes as you eat it, and how the taste may change from the first bite compared to the third or fourth. Is it more or less sweet, sour, bland, salty?
Step 8: As you continue eating this food, be sure to continue to check-in with your hunger and fullness levels periodically throughout the eating experience. Consider stopping eating when you are a #6-7 on the hunger/fullness scale.
Step 9: When you decide you’ve had enough to eat, try taking action to reinforce this decision you’ve made. As I mentioned earlier, examples of this would be putting your napkin or cutlery on the plate; pushing the dish away; storing the food as leftovers. Find something that works best for you to reinforce the decision you’ve made to stop eating.