How to develop healthy eating habits

In trying to keep up with busy schedules, many of us replace nutritious meals with unhealthy on-the-go snacks. These tips will help you understand your relationship with food and develop healthier eating habits for the whole family.

Practical eating tips
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Practical tips to get started
• Try a basic mindfulness practice. Sit down, be still and quiet, and observe your thoughts.
• Eat without distractions. Turn off your cellphone, computer, TV and radio.
• Focus on the delicious food in front of you. When you quiet your mind and pay attention, you'll savour the flavours and textures.
• Slow down and chew your food (15 to 30 chews per mouthful). Really taste each bite.
• Put your fork and knife down between bites or try eating with chopsticks.
• Take a moderate first serving. If you want seconds, ask yourself why: Is it hunger or habit?
• Stop eating when you feel two-thirds full. Learn how to recognize the feeling of satiety.
• Aim to have sit-down meals with your family.
• Set a nice table with candles, flowers and pretty cloth napkins.
• Practise gratitude: Thank the cook before eating.
• Try mindful substitutions to deal with cravings. Want a chocolate bar? Try a single square of dark chocolate instead and savour the rich flavour while you eat it.
• Plant a garden or a pot of herbs to help you connect with your food.
• Teach your children to eat slowly and with attention.

Dieting vs. mindful eating
According to Dr. Devon Christie, an integrative physician with Connect Health in Vancouver, mindful eating addresses body image challenges through a healthy lens. Consider these differences.

This is a temporary fix with a 95 percent relapse rate. It often involves deprivation, guilt, shame and distrust of one's self. It requires you to suppress internal cues such
as hunger and satiety. There is a focus on food and external rules.

Mindful eating
This is an enduring change that can be associated with acceptance, joy and building
trust. It requires you to engage your internal cues. There is a focus on food quality and
internal wisdom.

This story was originally titled "The Hunger Game" in the November 2012 issue.

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