Focus on Meal Time Wellness

Focus on Meal Time Wellness

Focusing on being in good health is important in so many areas of life. One major area we have more control over involves our eating habits and even how someone eats a meal.

Food choice and listening to your body are so important, and will improve your health and wellness. Let’s take a look at a few common questions to ask yourself that will help guide you in improving your health and wellness around meals.

What is my eating environment like?

Where and how you are eating can affect how much and how fast you eat. Begin by having less distractions. That includes avoiding the TV, phone, and general distractions to help you focus on your meal.

Having a stressful environment can contribute to eating quickly. Try to instead focus on creating a calm environment with soothing music or eating with your family. 

What’s on my plate?

Another great place to start is to first double check the portions on your plate. Using a smaller plate can be helpful as our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, especially after someone has bariatric surgery.

When eating your meal, try to focus on eating protein first, then healthy fats, fruits and vegetables before considering a starchy carbohydrate item if you are at that stage in your journey.

How am I eating?

Practice chewing each bite to applesauce consistency. It is very common for people to chew their food 3-5 times before swallowing. This contributes to fast eating and feeling as though food gets stuck in your throat or stomach.

Taking small nibbles of food also helps with eating slowly and better digestion. Eating slowly and pausing between bites will help your meal last about 20 minutes. 

Slow Things Down

I always hear the phrase, “but I’m too busy to sit down to eat,” or a variation of that phrase. It is important to set aside time to eat, especially after a bariatric surgery. Because your stomach is so small, it is important to take your time with meals.

If you eat too fast or take too large of a bite, your stomach will feel overwhelmed. Taking smaller bites and chewing your food well will help improve satisfaction and satiety from your meals.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating begins by listening to and trusting your internal hunger and fullness cues. This helps you become more aware of when you are satisfied with a meal. It is important to honor that feeling, and to stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed or overly full.

How do I intuitively eat?

It is best to ask yourself this question before any snack, “Am I hungry?” This helps identify if you're actually hungry or are trying to feed a feeling like boredom, anxiety, sadness, or stress. This is really helpful in identifying the difference between true hunger and emotional eating.

Emotional eating can also be characterized by craving sweets and crunchy foods like chips and popcorn. These food items do not make you feel full, and are often used to feed a feeling. Check in on your snacking habits, and evaluate the reason behind the snacks.

With meals, you can practice intuitive eating by first visualizing yourself actually eating something before you eat. Research has shown that this does improve the satisfaction from a meal! Focus on the textures and flavors of the food you’re eating.

Give It  A Try!

Try a few of these suggestions to improve your mindfulness and intuitive eating around meal time! Practice listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and mindfulness with emotional eating.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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