Eating out can lead to excess, but a new study shows that women who practice mindful eating (an approach drawn from the principles of mindfulness meditation) can lose weight without dieting, even while continuing to dine out regularly. Women who used these techniques, which include taking time to savor the appearance, smell, texture, and taste of their food, ate roughly 300 fewer calories per day than those who didn’t and lost an average of 3.7 pounds over six weeks. “The goal is to maximize the pleasure of eating out,” says lead author Gayle Timmerman, a nursing professor at the University of Texas Austin. “If you are paying more attention, you can be satisfied with less.” The mindful eating skills transferred to the women’s own kitchens, leading them to eat fewer calories at home.
Try these tips for fully savoring your meal:
1. Slow Down
Before you taste your food, take a moment to appreciate how it looks, feels, and smells.
Pay attention to what happens between the first, second, and third bites. The pleasure-per-bite ratio typically drops off. The first bite or two of a dessert can give plenty of satisfaction.
3. Choose Well
If you feel neutral about a certain food, skip it and save the calories for something you really enjoy.