Eating in Restaurants: A Mindful Meal

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Many woman who come to our healthy weight management program mention the challenges they have with dining in restaurants.  Let’s face it, a full menu to select from, large portions, food exposure, and socializing while dining can make meals in restaurants a bit challenging.  Bringing the practice of mindful eating with you to a restaurant can make a huge difference in how you feel at the end of the meal.

Here are a few tips on how the 3 principles of mindful eating can be applied in a restaurant:

1.  Wait for Hunger – this is usually not an issue when dining out, but perhaps I should re-word this to “Wait for an Appropriate Level of Hunger.”  Sure, you want to be ready to eat and hungry, but starved is NOT what we are going for.

2. Eat What You Want – Try checking in with yourself before opening the menu.  Consider the type of food you are truly in the mood for, thinking about flavor, texture, and temperature; THEN open the menu and do your best to find a food that lines up with what you are craving.

3.  Get Focused – This might be the most helpful principle when dealing with large portions.  Eat in a slow and relaxed manner, making sure to check in and take note of whether or not you are enjoying what you ordered.  Focus on the qualities of the food and pay attention to your physical response to what, or how much, you are eating.

How has mindful eating helped you make more supportive choices when dining out?

3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Rachel Peterson says:

    Great tips! I also find that I know myself and the self-talk that the ‘old me’ used to say was, “wow, you never get this food at home, so eat all you want because this is a special place (or special occasion) and/or you never know when you’ll have the chance to have this mango orange creme brulee (or whatever) again!”…

    The (GM) mindful me notices everything and says, “what a nice place, what a lovely server, what fabulous company, what is the one thing on this menu that will make me feel happy or that I really want to try”. And, I have gotten MUCH better at quieting the voice in my head that says, “That steak was $26 so you better not waste any of it”

    Fundamentally, the mindful me treats myself MUCH better than the former mindless me…

  • julie says:

    Rachel – I have some of the same thing going on. I think of it as my last food neurosis, and am slowly noticing it, minding it, and changing it. I don’t have to get the most fattening thing on the menu on principle, I can get whatever I want.

  • […] about what you really want before ordering. Take a moment to think about what would really taste good to you before you open the menu. That can help you focus in on what you would really like, instead of being confused by too many […]

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