Registered dietitian/nutritionist and author of ‘The Small Change Diet,’ Keri Gans shares her simple tips for eating mindfully so that you feel in control and meet your weight loss goals.
Epoch Times: The term mindfulness has become a buzzword in health circles these days, because well, the mind has a lot to do with our health.
Hello and welcome to Health 1+1, I’m June Fakkert. My guest today is Keri Gans, registered dietician and nutritionist, and author of ‘The Small Change Diet.’ Thank you so much for being here Keri.
Keri Gans: Oh, my pleasure.
Epoch Times: Keri is going to talk to us about how to eat more mindfully. So Keri, could you start off by helping us understand what is mindful eating?
Ms. Gans: It sounds funny, but it is exactly what it is. It’s eating mindfully. I think too many people are eating on the go. They’re not concentrating on sitting down and savoring their meal. So when you think of mindful eating—is taking that time, like pausing, and really becoming in tune to what you’re doing and what you’re putting in your body.
Epoch Times: So what kinds of issues have you found that your clients are able to resolve through practicing mindful eating?
Ms. Gans: Many people eat for various reasons—nothing to do with hunger. They’re eating because they’re stressed, they’re eating because they’re angry, lonely, tired. And when they can take a second to really pause and realize that they’re eating out of emotional reasons and not eating out of true hunger, that’s really a first step in conquering in most instances, overeating.
They’re eating more than they should and unfortunately that can lead to weight gain.
A lot of times you think you’re hungry, but you’re not. You’re actually thirsty. And that’s a real tricky situation. So I tell my patients make sure you’re really staying hydrated throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water—doesn’t have to be just water, it could be tea, it could be low-fat milk, it could be various other beverages to keep you hydrated.
But it’s important because if you’re not drinking, and you’re getting dehydrated, you might be getting a headache and you’re saying “Hmm,” I think I need to eat something. But really all you need to do is take a glass and drink a little water and then all those symptoms will resolve.
Epoch Times: So you said mindful eating is about slowing down and taking your time—which actually would be a lifestyle change for many of us. Could you explain some of the particulars, some of the things we could do to help us?
Ms. Gans: First thing you should do is basically tune everything off. So step away from the TV. Not sitting down and watching TV and eating. No. Turn the TV off.
Step away from your computer—very hard for people to do. I’m telling people to disconnect. Disconnect from your cellphone.
Don’t be talking on the phone and eating, because what happens when you’re multitasking, is you really don’t realize that you’re eating. So I suggest that you sit down—yes, sit down—no standing and eating, sitting at a table, eating slowly, actually set your table nicely. I know that seems weird for many people. Not eating out of a bag. Not eating out of a package. Plating your food. So even if you’re getting a sandwich that you picked up somewhere and you didn’t make it yourself. Taking that sandwich, putting it on a plate, sitting down, pouring yourself a glass of water and just relaxing while you eat.
Also it’s important to chew slowly. Really chew slowly, and then really taste what you’re eating. So many times I think people finish a meal and they’ll be like, “What did I just eat?” Because they ate so quickly they don’t even remember.
So it’s very important. Disconnect. Take your time, and savor your food. That is mindful eating.
Epoch Times: Now if you’re at a party or even at the office, sometimes you know there are a lot of distractions around that you can’t necessarily step away from. What can you do then?
Ms. Gans: Being in social situations is one of the most challenging things for mindful eating. But you know what, it can be done. Because if we’re talking about using our mind—no pun intended for mindful eating—its important that we be strong. And we realize what is it that we want to do, we don’t want to overeat. Just because our co-workers are, just because there’s food everywhere, doesn’t mean that we have to be privy to that.
What we can actually do is try to be the leader in the office and say, “You know what, everybody else is overeating. I’m going to think about—I’m gonna meal plan, I’m gonna to actually bring my lunch to the office. I’m going to bring a snack to the office. So midday when everybody is you know, going to the vending machine, or grabbing cookies that happen to be lying around. You’re saying to yourself, “Hmm, no. I’m not going to fall prey to that. I have my own snack with me and I’m going to be prepared and I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to enjoy my snack because I’m taking care of myself.”
And the same way when you’re going out for dinner. Just because you’re with a group of people doesn’t mean you have to order what everyone else is ordering. What I tell my patients is be the first to order. So choose something healthy on that menu, order it before anyone else orders. Because we know what happens. If your friends choose something that’s a little more decadent you might change your mind, and then you order what they’re having. But if you’re the first to order, then stick to it. Hold to your guns and say this is what I’m having. And then when you’re with the group and you’re eating, you can also slow down. Yes you’re talking and there’s conversation but also you know, glance down, pay attention to what you’re doing and therefore mindful eating you’ll see can work in any situation.
Epoch Times: Now you have a technique that you call the HALT technique and that can also work for mindful eating. Can you explain that to us?
Ms. Gans: Ask yourself, am I Hungry, am I Angry, am I Lonely, or am I Tired.
Basically ask yourself those four questions before you go and grab that bag of chips. And if you find out it’s like “Oh, I’m lonely,” well maybe get on the phone and call up a friend and chit-chat for a little while. As opposed to diving into that bag of chips.
And the same way if you’re angry. You know, figure out what the emotion is before you just assume that you’re gonna to go to your old habits. And you’re going to grab something to eat. So I kind of like that, it’s kind of like stopping you in your tracks and making you really think before you eat.
Epoch Times: [Any other tips?]
Ms. Gans: When you go to the grocery store, you need to go with a list. And never go to the supermarket hungry. Because if you go hungry, you’re gonna start piling in all these foods that really don’t belong in your cart. So again, being mindful, is making a shopping list, not going to the store hungry, and also don’t go dehydrated. Back to that, make sure you drink plenty of water before you start roaming those aisles.
Epoch Times: Thank you so much, these are fantastic tips because remember health is wealth, and you need to invest.