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Have you ever finished a candy bar and wished you had just one more bite? Are you surprised when your hand hits the bottom of the popcorn bucket at the movies? Do you ever felt miserably stuffed after you eat?

These are all symptoms of unconscious eating or mindless eating.

People eat while they watch TV, drive, work—even while talking on the telephone. And many people eat too fast, so busy filling the next forkful that they don’t notice the bite in their mouth. Since your brain can only really focus on one thing at a time, you miss the subtle signs of fullness so you don’t stop until you feel uncomfortable—or you run out of food. Most importantly, you won’t enjoy your food as much so you have to eat more to feel satisfied.

The solution is to pay attention while you’re eating. Mindful eating provides more enjoyment with less food. Practice these four key steps.

Start by recognizing whether you’re hungry before you begin eating. If you aren’t hungry, you won’t be as interested so it will be harder to stay focused. Besides, if a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.

Next, decide how full you want to be when you’re finished eating. When you eat with intention, you’re less likely to keep eating until the food is gone.

Surprisingly, one of the most important steps is eating what you really want. Our society is so obsessed with eating right that we sometimes eat things we don’t even like. However, satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food--without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less.

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The last step is to give food and eating your full attention. Pretend you are writing an article for a gourmet magazine. As you experience your meal, imagine what you would say about the ambience, the aromas, and the flavors. Notice when you are approaching the level of fullness you decided you wanted to be.

Admittedly it’s not easy to change a habit like multitasking while you eat but the results are well worth it. You’ll find that you can eat what you really want and truly enjoy every bite. Managing your weight isn’t just about what you eat but how you eat.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Weight Management Program. She is the award-winning author of Am I Hungry? What To Do When Diets Don’t Work.

Michelle, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


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