Mindful eating: how to have your cake and eat it

pizza and salad

Be mindful of what you are eating and you can still enjoy your favourite takeaway or treat without feeling guilty.

pizza and saladStudies have found that if you eat while distracted, you don’t always register what you have eaten and you can consume up to 288 calories more. So, switch off the TV, put down your phone, shut your laptop and focus on your food. You’ll eat less and enjoy more!

Try following these tips for some delicious treats.

Think about your snacks

While watching your favourite boxset you may be tempted to have some treats. If chocolates are your thing then keep the wrappers in sight. Research has shown that if you see the evidence, you will eat 28% less.

If you prefer something savoury like crisps then only buy small bags – multipacks have the smallest bags and can contain as little as 99 calories. But if you open a large family bag and keep putting your hand in, you could be eating over 750 calories.

With a multipack you may be tempted to open another packet, but it has been shown that if you have ‘pause points’ – something that makes you stop for a minute, like getting off your chair for another packet – you’re less likely to eat mindlessly and actually eat less.

If you are eating from big bags or boxes of sweets, put a small handful in a bowl and place the rest out of sight. By eating them one at a time you’ll eat less, and still enjoy every mouthful.

Slow down and enjoy the moment

Slow down your eating. Appreciate the taste, texture, smell and look of your food. Take a small forkful and chew it properly – 20-30 times. Swallow before you put in the next mouthful, put down your knife and fork. If you can, aim to take 20 minutes to eat your main meal.

Fill up on salad

Who doesn’t love a treat? But whenever you have a high-fat or high-calorie meal like a pizza, always have it with a large salad, and go easy on the dressing. Salad is a healthy way to fill you up.

For instance, a medium 12” pepperoni pizza could have up to 1700 calories. But if you share it with a friend and fill the gap on your plate with a large mixed salad and balsamic dressing, it’s nearer 920 calories. This reduces the fat by up to 38g, which is nearly half of the calorie saving. 

Downsize your dishes

Have you noticed that plates and bowls have got bigger, both in restaurants and in your home?

Research has shown that if you serve yourself from a larger serving dish onto larger plates and bowls, then you’re likely to help yourself to 56% more food! So, downsize your dishes, plates and serving tools and fool your brain into saving calories.

Mix your treats with healthy fruit

Whenever you have a sweet dessert like a cheesecake, serve it with some fresh fruit – strawberries or the super fruit, blueberries. An average 100g portion of chocolate cheesecake could have 425 calories; add two tablespoons of double cream and it rockets to 565 calories.

But consider having a smaller 80g portion of cheesecake or share with a friend and include some fresh strawberries. The total calories comes down to 340 – a 76% calorie saving, plus you’ll be having one of your five-a day.

Just a few simple steps to mindful eating, and you can enjoy all of your favourite treats without counting the calories.


Susan Hart

About Susan Hart

I am a Nottingham-based nutritional coach, advising clients about the benefits of healthy eating. This is delivered on an individual, group or organisational wide basis. For clients wishing to stay healthy and possibly lose weight I offer vegan and vegetarian cookery classes. I also deliver wellbeing workshops at Maggie’s Cancer Support Centre at the City Hospital in Nottingham. As a vegetarian chef I also write a monthly restaurant review for the Nottingham Post, and regularly write for the West Bridgford Wire. I just love talking about and eating food! Visit my website www.nutrition-coach.co.uk to find out more.