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Feature Articles: Eating Well


Tips for Eating Well

Linda Rellergert, Nutrition Specialist in St. Charles County
University of Missouri Extension



Avoid getting too hungry. If you get too hungry, it’s almost impossible to eat with discrimination. Skipping meals and/or snacks is a set up to binge or overeat when you do eat. Try to tune in to hunger and eat shortly after noticing hunger. The 1-10 scale of hunger and fullness is a good parameter to help you identify at which point you acknowledge hunger and eat, and when you notice fullness and stop eating.

Eat purposefully by minimizing haphazard eating. The best way to eat deliberately is to make an effort to eat. Food that is left around the house to nibble on when walking by is a set up for indiscriminate eating. Usually this type of eating takes place on a different level of consciousness. We know we’re nibbling but it “doesn’t really count.” It’s like we’re not really eating since it’s just a few of the candies at a time. Keeping the food around can also make you obsessed about eating it or overly focused on staying away from it. Either way, the food will become the source of obsession and will become a negative experience.

Give yourself permission to eat. This allows you the opportunity to truly eat rather than sneak or feel bad about eating. When you feel bad you can’t stay in the present—you’re too consumed with negative self-talk about the eating rather than tasting or enjoying the food.

Provide enough of the food you really want. If you cut back on the foods you really want it will be like depriving yourself. This in turn will set you up to overeat for fear you won’t get the food again. Be sure to keep plenty of good food around and plenty of variety. Variety provides options when you’re not quite sure what you want to eat.

Eat nutritiously with variety, balance and moderation. Eating a variety of foods is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Balancing food choices over a period of several days also ensures your body gets what is needed for optimum health, and that you will feel fed. Moderation means eating various amounts of food without going to extremes of either too little or too much.

Slow down while eating. Eating a little slower will help you taste and enjoy the food you eat. The “20 minute rule” of behavior modification helps your body get the signal of satisfaction once you’ve eaten enough to satisfy you physiologically. It allows time for your body to feel satisfied before you eat to the point of being stuffed.

Be aware of emotional eating. When eating for emotional reasons, it’s much harder to eat in the present. Tune into feelings and hunger and make a conscious decision to eat or not to eat in response to emotional issues. Remember, when eating to calm or soothe, eat with the full intention of nurturing with food.

Get regular physical activity. Regular physical movement, whether walking, stretching or swinging on a swing, helps you connect with your body. Physical movement improves your sense of emotional as well as physical well being. Try to throw away all judgments about the right way to exercise, and just move in any way that is comfortable. The goal is to move regularly in a way that feels positive. That may mean just 5 minutes a day for a month. Once 5 minutes is comfortable and becomes routine, the time will naturally become longer as your body and mind connects with the positive energy that results from regular movement.

Remember, any food you want to eat should be kept at home with plenty of it available. It’s not recommended to keep it out to pick up and eat as you walk by. Keep the foods in the appropriate pantry and make a conscious decision to eat whatever it is you want. The goal is to keep your desired food in the pantry or an appropriate location so that a decision making process takes place when you eat it.

The simple act of opening a cabinet and choosing what it is you want to eat makes your eating more conscious. The decision making process that takes place helps you eat in the present. This process is much more difficult to accomplish on a regular basis when food is out and available. The goal is to reduce haphazard eating by eating in a specific place instead of around the house.

When you eat with full intent and stay conscious for the duration of the eating, you are less likely to continue to think about food until you notice hunger again. You want to feel fed physically as well as psychologically. Eating the foods you want when you’re hungry, eating with full permission and consciously helps you to feel fed physically and psychologically.


When you deprive yourself of food you really like, you may be fed physically but are left emotionally unsatisfied. This leads to non-hunger eating. To help reduce non-hunger eating, the goal is to satisfy your physical hunger and psychological (appetite) hunger.




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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