A girl feeds her mom a strawberryAmericans continue to get heavier, which increases our risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other health conditions. Healthy eating can help you avoid excess weight and increase the quality and length of your life. And an important part of healthy eating is mindful eating. Here are some tips:

Containers & Plates

How often have you opened a bag of chips to eat only a handful, and been surprised to realize that the bag is empty and you have eaten them all? When we aren't paying attention, empty plates and containers are our only cue to stop eating. Start with a smaller container or plate to remove the risk of eating more than you intended. 

Don't Fall for It

Food descriptions affect your food intake, too. At the store or a restaurant, you are more likely to buy a dessert when it's described as "dense, decadent chocolate cake topped with a light, airy chocolate mousse" and ignore one described as “chocolate cake.” Descriptive labeling often inspires us to choose an extra item, which causes us to eat more. Reduce your risk of overeating by looking past the language to your food's nutritional value. 

Study the Evidence

In a research study, participants could eat all of the chicken wings they wanted. Bus boys removed the bones immediately from some tables, while the bones were left to pile higher and higher on the other tables. In the end, it was clear that the people who saw reminders of what they had eaten consumed less. A similar study using candy got similar results. The people who saw their empty wrappers pile up as they ate didn't eat as much. 

Healthy Food vs. a Healthy Diet

Healthier food doesn’t always lead to healthier eating. Although olive oil is a healthier fat than butter, it’s not healthier if you eat a lot more of it. Apples are a low-calorie food, but not when they're mixed with dressing and nuts in an apple salad. Likewise, celery and carrots have very few calories until they're eaten with a dip made from sour cream. To get a more accurate picture of what you're eating, pay attention to all of the ingredients.

Marketing Magic

Eating healthy begins with what you buy in the first place. Studies show that we are highly influenced by quantities listed in signs. If the sale price for ice cream is listed "3 for $9," we often buy three instead of just the one we intended, even though the sale price would be the same. Not only does this increase what we buy and bring home, but what we eat as well.

Pay Attention

In this busy world we live in, we sometimes resort to doing two things at once. Eating in the car or in front of the computer or TV makes it easy to forget what we ate or even that we ate.  When it's time to eat, make it an event to remember. Chew slowly. Tune in to the texture, the flavor, the color and the aroma of your meal. Savor and appreciate your food so that you will remember it and feel full longer.

Source: NIH News in Health