Mindfulness about eating is critical step in losing weight 

By Jenna Godfrey, Dietitian   |  1/17/2018

Armed with a good knowledge of proper nutrition, you might think you are ready to start a new weight-loss program or tackle your New Year's goal to shed a few pounds. But self-awareness is a key part of the process. Take a look at these 5 steps you should take to ensure you are being mindful about what might be poor eating behaviors. 

Step 1: Take a hard look at what you eat and drink. What are the foods and meals you consume most frequently?  What foods are hindering your ability to lose weight? Do you eat heavily processed foods like chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, cold cuts, frozen foods, fast foods, etc.? Next, what are the typical portion sizes of higher-calorie foods you eat? 

Step 2: Evaluate how you eat. Are you skipping any meals during the day causing you to have a huge meal for dinner with nighttime snacking? Are you using food as a coping mechanism for stressful situations? Are you getting take-out or going to restaurants often? Are you eating in front of a screen? 

Step 3: Make plans and prep. Write out your seven-day eating routine, including whether you will eat three meals per day or five to six smaller ones. Then prep. Select one or two days per week to prepare dishes ahead of time. Consider using a calorie-counting app to help you strengthen your knowledge and skills in controlling what you eat and how much. Use measuring cups and a food scale as often as possible for better portion control. 

Step 4: Focus on replacing unhealthy foods with more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. The increased fiber from fruits, veggies and whole grains will make you feel more full. Healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado and fish, as well as lean proteins including lean meats, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and legumes will make you less likely to overeat. 

Step 5: Track your fluids. Make sure you drink enough. Water is the preferred fluid source. The average healthy adult needs a minimum of 8 to 10 cups daily. Avoid fruit juices, sodas, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Jenna Godfrey is a registered dietitian at Health Quest who works at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel.