We live in a fast- paced world. We constantly face deadlines and endless to-do lists and multi-tasking is often a necessary tool to get through a typical day. When it comes to eating, the same applies. Lunch while in your car on the way to your next meeting, a quick snack while walking to your colleague’s office or supper while in front of the computer finishing up that report for the next day. Even if one is not busy with something specific while eating, one is likely to be trawling Facebook or Twitter at the same time – admittedly a good break from work, but not such a healthy habit for your waistline.

Studies have found that subjects eating while completing a task assigned to them ate more, battled to remember the details of the meal they ate, ate faster and were more likely to eat again sooner as compared to a group that ate while not doing anything else at the same time.

This is often a habit I encourage before any dietary changes are even made: eat what you are used to but always eat it sitting at a table, in a quiet and calm environment, with no other distractions. That means no eating in the car, no eating while standing in the kitchen, no eating in front of a cell phone or computer and definitely no eating on the couch in front of the TV.

The immediate response from people who implement this properly is that they realise how much less food they actually require. Adhering to the guideline of eating until 80% full, they realise that they need a lot less food to get to this point. Eating slowly, taking in the smell and texture of the meal, chewing properly and putting utensils down between each mouthful are key in giving the brain a chance to acknowledge the meal and to signal to the stomach that it is satisfied.

I once heard a brilliant story that I wish I could take credit for: an overweight business man approaches a health care professional for help in losing weight and improving his health. The business man would regularly go through a local drive through for lunch on his way to meetings. He would then eat the meal while driving to his next location. The health care professional told him to continue doing this, but instead of driving off once he had received his meal, to sit in his car in the parking lot and force himself to take 20 minutes to finish his meal. Upon follow up, the business man declared two things: firstly, that he was getting fuller a lot quicker and that he didn’t actually need such a large meal, and secondly that the food was actually tasteless and he had started to enjoy it less.

These are simple practices you can start today:

  • Eat breakfast at the table before leaving home
  • Don’t eat lunch at your desk, take your lunch outside or to the cafeteria
  • Eat supper at the table with the family – no cell phones or TV allowed!
  • Put your spoon / knife and fork down between each bite instead of loading it up with the next mouthful before you have even swallowed
  • Sit for at least 10 – 15 minutes before serving yourself another helping