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Strategies to avoid mindless eating

January 07, 2009|By LYNN LITTLE

You are probably familiar with that guilty feeling you get when you eat a second helping or have an extra-large slice of pie. Often, your overeating happens without you being fully aware of what you are doing.

For instance, there are many environmental influences - such as visual cues - that can lead you to mindless overeating. Being mindful helps reduce calorie consumption, and even small reductions make a difference. A savings of just 70 calories per meal could add up to more than 200 calories per day. Over time, this could have quite an impact on your waistline.

To help you avoid consuming unwanted calories, try strategies such as these:

o Use a smaller plate. A portion of food on an 8-inch plate seems more satisfying than the same amount of food on a 12-inch plate.

o Apply the half-plate rule. When dining out, eat half the food on your plate and save the rest for another meal, or split an entree with a friend.

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o Place one-fourth less food on your plate. Then, fill the space with a non-starchy vegetable.

o For snacks, place a single serving in a small bowl. When you have eaten it, stop snacking.

o Many snacks are now packaged in 100-calorie portions, but you can save money by bagging your own.

o Don't keep a dish of nuts or candy on your counter or desk.

o Place high-calorie chips and crackers on the top shelf of the pantry, not at eye level.

o Be mindful and focused when eating. Don't be distracted. Sit down and eat at a counter or table in the kitchen or dining room.

o Turn off the TV.

o Eat slowly and savor the flavor and texture of your food. Eating slowly rather than wolfing down a meal will reduce the number of calories you consume.

Focus on one or more strategies to help you eat healthier and consume less unwanted calories.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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