A Lesson in Eating—the Right Way It probably comes to you as naturally as breathing—the art of eating. However, you might never have been taught to eat well. This is critically important because, unless you learn to eat well, you may never master the art of dieting. In our society, certain inappropriate eating habits have become routinely. By attacking these habits, you can increase the likelihood that you will actually lose weight. To begin with, it is important that you learn to eat slowly. At first, this might be quite a challenge. We have been conditioned to live in a fast food world. We rush meals in order to have time to run to soccer practice, to a piano recital, or to school and work. We think that rushing saves us time—but such a routine can easily backfire, leaving us with unwanted pounds. Studies have shown that at least 10 minutes is required before the brain receives the message that the stomach is full. This means that you could be eating long after you are actually satiated. Your meal—whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening—should last at least ten minutes. Train yourself to lengthen your meal by engaging in conversation, resting your fork between courses, chewing slowly, and drinking plenty of water between courses. You should also wait at least ten minutes after your main meal before deciding if you need dessert. Within that period of time, you may discover that you weren’t really hungry after all. Another trick is to place serving dishes on the counter and leave them there. As a result, you’ll actually have to get up out of your seat in order to get more food. You may decide that it’s not worth the bother. Or you may find that you discover that you need no more food between courses. Also, do not eat directly from an ice cream carton, tortilla chip bag, or cracker box. Otherwise, you could find yourself easily overeating. You should always eat at the table. This prevents you from trying to engage in multi-tasking, such as surfing the ‘Net, watching television, or flipping through magazines while you eat. At the table, you’ll be forced to concentrate on how much food you are putting into your mouth. If you eat anywhere else, you may lose track of how much food you’re consuming. Abandon the idea that you must clean your plate. It is simply not true. Research has shown that more than half of adults insist on cleaning their plates, even when they are already full. This means that you are overeating simply out of politeness. Such a habit only serves to add unwanted pounds. Instead of cleaning your plate, try eating only that portion of food that makes you feel full. You’ll be healthier and happier that way. Do not keep food in plain view during the day. If the cookie jar is open or the pretzel bag is out on the table, you’ll have a tremendous urge to eat, even if you are not hungry. After a meal, put your food away in the refrigerator, inside your cupboard, or in the Lazy Susan. This way, you’ll actually have to do some work to get at food before you consume it. If you happen to overeat, don’t spend a great deal of time sulking. Accept your mistake and move on. If you’ve veered off course, take corrective action and forget about it. Otherwise, you could find yourself eating out of frustration, or going off your diet entirely. It’s better to sabotage a single meal than a lifetime’s worth of meals. You may be self-conscious at first as you attempt to change your eating habits. Realize that your bad habits did not start overnight, so it will take some time to correct them. While it may seem an arduous task initially, it is well worth the effort. You’ll quickly find that your new eating habits have helped you to lose unwanted weight. Granted, such techniques as hiding your food and eating more slowly will not in themselves cause you to lose weight, but they will help you to curb your overeating over the long run. And you’ll be a better person for it.