Eating in moderation and enjoying a little of what you like mitigates the inevitable binges that come from denying yourself the foods you love. So follow the Artful Eating ‘how to eat’ steps and weight loss will be a joyous consequence!
Eat the best quality you can.
We all need and deserve sweet treats and indulgences, and I absolutely adore them. As long as you enjoy them consciously, they are absolutely okay! The key is that it’s about the quality of the flavour of the treat as opposed to the size. Remember, the flavour of anything is in the first few bites. With this in mind, when treating yourself, choose quality. It is always worth it and your body will appreciate it too! If you eat good quality food you’ll find that you need to eat less as you savour the taste.
When you’re at a party and they are serving nibbles, if you don’t like the look of them, or if they seem overly processed, don’t bother with them. Make a rule to only eat food you’ll really enjoy and that is the good quality stuff! Our body is much better at breaking down foods that aren’t overly processed so privilege homemade over mass produced. This is the thing: like a wine lover who has honed their palate, you will find that by only eating quality sweet things or treats, you will no longer like the artificial and overly sweet flavours of unhealthy cakes, biscuits and confectionary. This shift in itself will reduce the number of treats you eat.
Listen to your body and think of the hunger scale. You want to only start eating when you feel slightly hungry and stop when you feel pleasantly satisfied. This is easy to do once you eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. Put the knife and fork down between each mouthful and chew your food. Wait until your mouth is empty, pause for a moment, only then should you consider the next bite!
The key to eating whatever you like is only eating when you are actually hungry! With this in mind, I never finish what’s on my plate as it’s important to leave room for the next course: think of a ‘half-portion’ I find it particularly easy to stick to only eating a half-portion when out, and my clients agree. Just delineate half of the portion on your plate and only eat that much (you can put the rest on a side plate if you like or ask to have it wrapped up to take home). It is especially important to stick to the half portion rule as we are consistently being trained to eat larger portions by restaurants and food producers who determine the size of a portion, and it is usually much larger than what we need to fuel ourselves, because they can charge more for it!
Eat what you want and enjoy your food.
You must be able to enjoy what you eat without the guilt of feeling that you have overindulged and this is absolutely possible by eating slowly, enjoying each mouthful and savouring the flavours. Chew consciously and slowly, enjoying the pleasure of the food and the ambiance. When you enjoy what you’re eating, your physiology responds by increasing your metabolism and extracting all the good nutrients from your food. Isn’t that amazing?
With this in mind, I also encourage you to ‘make a meal of it’. Use your best table ware, set the table beautifully, always use a knife a fork- even for a sandwich! Light a candle or put out some flowers and put your phone away! Doing these things sends a message to your brain to pause, enjoy and focus on this helpful and pleasurable way of eating.
When you feel satisfied, stop eating.
Be mindful of the hunger scale: listen to your body and stop when you feel pleasantly satisfied, not uncomfortably full! All the flavour is in the first few bites, so there is no need to overindulge. And remember to actually leave room for dessert as this is not something you should deny yourself. I always share my dessert with my dinner partner, that way I get to taste it and enjoy it, but not eat too much of it!
My clients really marvel at this practical, balanced approach to food, as they find it so liberating. Not enjoying our food or trying to control what we eat the major pitfalls that my weight loss clients complain about; indeed, when trying to lose weight so many people tell me how they completely avoid the foods they love for fear of binging or ‘falling off the diet wagon’. Not necessary! Now you have the coordinates to enjoy treats and the foods you love. Commit to practicing these steps every day for one month and you will be amazed at the effect it has on your appetite, your size and your relationship with food!
Artful Eating: The Psychology of Lasting Weight Loss by Karina Melvin is out now.