Many people give little thought to the snacks that take up space on their pantry shelves. But are the foods people eat between meals worthy of more careful attention? Those who subscribe to mindful snacking would suggest they are.
According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, mindful eating focuses on slowing down and tuning into the sensations of eating. One of the goals of mindful eating is to prevent unhealthy behaviors associated with food and eating. One such behavior is binge eating, which can have long-term negative consequences. The National Eating Disorders Association notes that as many as two-thirds of people diagnosed with binge eating disorder, or BED, are clinically obese.
Mindful eating can benefit anyone, including people who are maintaining healthy weights and not considered to be at risk of developing eating disorders. One of the questions people may have about mindful eating, and mindful snacking in particular, is how they can slow down and tune into the sensations of eating when they snack. Working professionals tend to snack at the office, where it’s not always so easy to slow down and tune in to the foods we eat. In addition, availability may dictate what people eat while away from home, which can lead to people eating unhealthy foods because that’s all that is available.
While there’s no denying mindful snacking can be difficult, the IFICF offers these tips to help people slow down and tune in during snack time.
Assess your hunger. Learning to assess their hunger can help people distinguish hunger from boredom. The IFICF recommends using a hunger scale of one to 10, with one being very hungry and 10 representing feelings of being stuffed. If you determine your hunger is a four or below, then consider a snack. Anything higher than a four and you might just be bored. When snacking, periodically pause to reassess your hunger and determine if you’re satisfied. This reassessment can help you avoid overeating.
Reduce distractions. Distractions can make it hard for people to recognize how much they have eaten. Avoid snacking while watching television or using your smartphone so you don’t accidentally overeat.
Take small bites. Large bites also can make it easier to overeat. Small bites, such as one whole grain chip at a time instead of a handful with each bite, can reduce the likelihood of overeating.
Let your senses savor your snacks. Using all of your senses when snacking can force you to slow down and notice flavors and aromas you might otherwise never recognize.
A more mindful approach to snacking can help people better appreciate their food and may help them avoid overeating. Learn more about mindful eating at www.foodinsight.org.