Have you ever sat in front of the TV after a long day, only to realize you’ve destroyed an entire bag of chips an hour later? Distractions can cause a lot of harm in our lives, but you might not realize how much they impact your diet. Being aware of what you eat is as essential practice for anyone looking to follow a healthy lifestyle. To help address the challenges we face when combating distractions like TV and cell phones, we sat down with Tessa Wellmon, RD, of the Center for Healthy Living at UPMC Hamot, to hear her advice on incorporating mindful eating into your life:

How can mindful eating help my children with their diets?tessa full size image

Your children are going to observe your eating behaviors, so the less distracted you are while eating (no TV, no devices at the table) the better off they will be for the future.

I try to avoid junk food, but sometimes my cravings are terrible and end up eating more than I should. Any suggestions to help me be more mindful?

Try to identify the time of day you’re craving the junk food. This may seem counterintuitive, but distraction can be very powerful. Typically, we start feeling cravings because of stress or boredom, so find a task you can do to get your mind off of it. Taking a shower, reading a book, organizing a closet, painting your finger nails (so you can’t reach for the chips!) are great ways to do this. Also, if you’re going to have these types of food in your house, try portioning them out ahead of time so when you are tempted, you’re just grabbing one portion size and not the whole bag.

How many grams of carbs per meal do you recommend to a type 1 diabetic? And I’m trying to stay under 1800 calories. I was wondering if I should maybe just try a high protein, low fat, and very low-carb diet ( like maybe 30gm carbs total for the day)? I’m tired of having to take tons of insulin which causes weight gain. Thanks if you can help!

In general, we need carbohydrates in our diet. The difference is the type of carbohydrates we’re eating, specifically complex vs. refined carbs. As a diabetic, it’s very important to balance those types throughout the day, but they must be individualized from person to person so it’s difficult to assess the exact amounts. To help individualize a plan for you and provide additional resources, please feel free to call our office at 814-877-5481.

I have changed a lot in my diet over the last few years: no processed food, I no longer drink soda, I have always enjoyed veggies & fruit, our choice in meat fresh fish , steak, chicken breast , 80/20 Hamburg or better, no bread, etc.
Since I switched to this lifestyle, if I eat bread , potatoes, cereal (I guess carbs), I’m sure to gain weight the next day. How can I balance so that I could have a little?

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

Ideally, we would look at the types of carbs you are consuming, as well as the amount and the time of day. It’s best to choose whole grains and eat them throughout the day, instead of a large portion at one time. If you would like a one-on-one consultation, please feel free to call our office at 814-877-5481.

I already follow a pretty healthy lifestyle. Will mindful eating help me, too?

Most of us can benefit from mindful eating! Think beyond what types of foods you eat — think about your behaviors at mealtime. Do you pay attention to hunger and fullness cues? Do you eat at your desk? In front of the TV? Do you eat fast? Slow? Do you feel tired or rejuvenated after you eat? If you’re distracted, tired, or eating too quickly — you can definitely benefit from mindful eating!

How much protein is a good amount each day?

This is very much based on each individual. What I would recommend is to take your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2, which will give you your weight in kilograms. Then, take that number and multiply it by anything from 0.8 to 1 for a general amount of protein needed daily. (Ex. 120lbs -> 44g – 55g of protein per day). It should be noted that protein needs can vary based on medical status and exercise habits.

I am a type 2 diabetic and I was in Hamot with a sugar of 550. How can I cut the carbs and get my kids healthier, too?

First, look at the types of carbohydrates you’re consuming. Replace sugary beverages with water or unsweetened beverages, limit sweet treats, and exchange refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta) for the whole grain variety. Also, please feel free to call our offices for an appointment and additional resources: 814-877-5481.

Do you have any tips to help me become more aware of what I eat?

First, focus on hunger cues — don’t let yourself get too hungry because then it becomes harder to control your portions. Also, have healthy foods available — in the car, in your house, pack a lunch for work. Try to focus on every bite! Our first bite of food tastes the best because we’re anticipating it, and then we forget to enjoy the rest and become distracted with our surroundings. Also, make sure you pay attention to fullness cues — don’t just finish something because it’s on the plate. Focus on how your body feels. Aim to feel satisfied, not too full.


Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.