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Mind Your Food (And Your Butt Will Follow)
It sounds simple enough, right? Think about everything you put into your body. "Mindful eating" is something we should all practice, but all too often we, well, forget. And we forget to such an extent, according to a new study, that we sometimes don't even remember eating.
The effects of an unmemorable meal reach well beyond a wasted lunch. In fact, with a good memory of what we ate we feel fuller longer. And when we don't remember our meal, we tend to snack more or eat more calories at the next meal.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England conducted a study on mindful eating to determine its possible effects. The researchers fed three groups of women identical lunches of ham sandwiches, chips and water. While this was not the healthiest lunch they could have chosen (those researchers haven't been reading this blog), it came in around a respectable 500 calories. One group ate with nothing but their lunches to keep them occupied. A second group read a newspaper article on changes in chocolate bar sizes and soft drinks. The third group ate while listening to audio instructions on how to focus on the look, smell, flavors and textures of their food.
After an hour had passed, the researchers gave all the women plates of snacks of chocolate chip cookies and a sweet and crunchy British treat called chocolate fingers. The women in the group that listened to the audio instructions urging them to focus on their food ate 50% fewer cookies and 60% fewer chocolate fingers than those who read the newspaper or did nothing.
What can we take from this? The researchers concluded that those with the most vivid memory of their lunches ate less when the snacks were offered. It's important to notice and appreciate your food to feel fuller longer and make it easier to stick to your calorie budget.
One method I always recommend that will help you engage in this sort of mindful eating is food journaling, and in fact, it is one of the first tasks I give all the Biggest Loser contestants. But even if you aren't writing down everything you eat, stopping to appreciate each bite - how the flavors work together, what textures are at play and even how your food looks - is important not just to your overall enjoyment of your meals but to your waistline, as well.
While the show is away on summer break, we'll be giving away a year-long membership to The Biggest Loser Club, a customized interactive diet and fitness program, every week. This week, watch my Twitter feed @cherylforbergRD for your chances to win. If you don't use Twitter, don't worry: there'll be a different way to enter next week.