Fork vs. phone
Today at lunch, I went to a local place called Sprout here in Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. It's a healthy, organic, nutritious salad bar. I got a chicken and salad bowl and grabbed a seat, and as I'm looking around I see that every single person in there - most of them eating on their own - have a fork in one hand and a phone in the other.
Now, a lot of people who come in to me in my studio say that their biggest goal is to lose weight, and there are two - and only two - main ways we can go about that.
One is starting a diet where you restrict what you eat - maybe a whole food group - and eat very specific foods, in very controlled amounts.
However an easier way, and the way that I promote, is slowly building good nutrition habits that you can maintain long-term.
Most nutrition advice focuses on what to eat, and that's important. But just as important, and mostly overlooked, is how to eat.
My approach includes really simple techniques like eating slowly, and stopping at 80% full. Simple, but not easy. However, like all habits, they become automatic with a little time and practise.
The reason that I say stop at 80% full is that it takes time for the body to register that we’ve had enough food - typically 20 minutes. So if you stop at 80% - the point where you feel good, but not stuffed, and give it some time, your body will catch up and tell you that it’s full. Most of us eat quickly, and pass that point without giving our body the time it needs to register what we’ve just eaten.
Now when you've got a phone in one hand, or the TV or laptop in front of you as you’re eating, it's gonna be very hard to pay attention to eating slowly, or register when you’re starting to feel full.
When you're focused on something else - like watching a video while you're eating - those fullness signals are going to struggle to get through. Before you know it you're well past the 80% mark and it's too late.
So if you're one of those people who automatically pulls the phone out every time you eat on your own (and really, aren't we all), maybe try putting it aside, focussing on your meal, and notice if you can actually enjoy your food, eat more slowly, and register when fullness signals start to kick in. One simple tip is to put your cutlery down or have a sip of water after every bite.
As with so many things in life, eating benefits from mindfulness. Bringing more awareness to your meal not only helps you to enjoy it more, it can actually be a powerfully simple tool in weight loss.
I’d encourage you to try this for just one meal - maybe at your lunch today - and note the effects.
Look up, put the phone down, and give your lunch the love it deserves. Let me know how you find it. As always, you can leave me a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions on this, or any other aspect of fitness or nutrition.