One thing I’ve had to change about my mindset towards food is thinking of food as “good” or “bad”.

There are no bad foods — seeing foods as bad creates a phobia around them that can be unhealthy.

Instead, it’s more helpful to see food in terms of which ones should make up the bulk of your diet (vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds), and the ones that are more of a treat (sweets, fried foods, etc.). And to recognize that too much of the treats isn’t healthy.

With that mindset, how can we avoid eating too much of the treats? How can we avoid overeating in general?

I’ve found that slow, mindful eating is extremely useful.

Here are some ideas for eating slowly and mindfully:

  1. When you eat, pay attention to how the food looks. This gives you visual information about your food that helps you from eating too much.
  2. Pay close attention also to the texture, tastes, and smells of the food. Eat slowly and savor the food, whether it’s healthy vegetables (you can learn to enjoy them!) or the treats that should be smaller parts of your diet.
  3. Don’t be afraid of the treats, but just eat a few bites, slowly and mindfully.
  4. If you’re eating food that you usually eat too much of, try eating a bite, then putting the fork down. Chew the bite mindfully, swallow. Then breathe. Then pick up the fork and take the next bite. This will help you from overeating.
  5. If you usually go back for seconds (or even thirds), don’t do it immediately. Wait 5-10 minutes after you finish your first serving before considering whether you want another. Often it takes awhile for your body to realize its full, so if you wait, you might realize you’re already sated. Try eating only to satiation, not to absolute fullness.
  6. Take smaller portion sizes instead of loading up your plate. Eat the smaller amount slowly and it might be enough.
  7. Eat the healthy stuff (vegetables, beans, fruits, etc.) first, slowly, and then allow yourself to savor a smaller amount of the treat of your choice.