Did you ever notice how some foods can help you to eat mindfully while others make it so much more challenging? Certain snack foods seem to railroad you right into mindlessly overeating--like potato chips or crackers packaged in an oversized bag. You can easily lose track of your portion size. It's difficult to determine whether you are eating because you are hungry or simply because there is more. This article will introduce you to some new snack foods and explain how to apply mindful eating. It's sometimes challenging to get the hang of this new way of eating without a concrete example. 

Keep in mind that this isn't about how "healthy" the snacks are for you. It's not an assessment of their vitamins, minerals and so forth. Instead, it's a discussion on how to snack in a mindful way.

To summarize briefly, mindful eating is being aware of how you eat. The first step is noticing the way in which you snack--nibbling bite by bite or eating by the handful. Do you taste and savor or eat robotically? It's the overall experience of eating. Three snacks will be described in regards to the Mindful Factor (how you eat it), the Savor Factor (the taste) and a Mindful Eating Tip (how to eat it mindfully).

Sensible Portions

Mindful Eating Factor: The name "Sensible Portions" says it all. The company gets major kudos for being clear about their portions that are also realistic in size. This is a relief as most snack portion sizes aren't even close to what you'd actually eat. This leads to eater confusion and mindless eating. The bag states clearly in a circle that the portion size is 38. Believe it or not, you'll likely to be satisfied before finishing 38 of them.

Savor Factor:  Sensible Portions offers many flavors. "Salt & pepper" packs in a lot of taste. Very salty as promised and the warmth of pepper lingered. The bag brags that you won't have greasy fingers and this was pleasantly true. The texture is surprising. When you bite in, you may expect the straw to be denser. The good news is that it gives it incredible volume, which means you can eat a lot of them. If you don't like an airy, puffy taste and you desire something denser, try their Black Olive and Feta Pita Chips or the Apple Straws for something sweet. They are crunchy and have a solid texture. The portion size listed is 9 crackers.

Mindful Eating Tip:  Place 38 of these straws is a baggy or a bowl and then put the rest away before you start eating them. This will take away the option of unconsciously picking at them directly out of the bag. Be sure to tune into the wonderful crunch as you chew.

Healthy Dairy Yogurt Smoothies

Mindful Eating Factor: Healthy Dairy Yogurt Smoothies are made with Susta, a new "natural" sweetener (i.e. not artificial). The Healthy Dairy Smoothies are an extremely convenient yogurt drink. Throw it in your lunch box. Given the portability, it may take some effort to imbibe it slowly. When you drink food, it can often be perceived as less filling. So turn all your attention to it as you sip.

Savor Factor: This product is liquid yogurt and therefore feels very smooth running down your throat much like a light, fruity shake. Five Flavors: Strawberry, Peach, Mixed Berry, Tropical Fruit, Strawberry, Banana. Coming soon- Decadent Chocolate and Vanilla Latte.

Mindful Eating Tip:  Try drinking the Health Dairy Smoothie through a thick straw. It will help you slow down so you can enjoy it fully and make it last. Resist the urge to multitask while you are drinking this--such as chugging the yogurt while you drive to work. Wait until you are sitting at your desk so you can fully enjoy.

EatStrong Trail Mix

Mindful Factor: EatStrong trail mix is small bag with a high energy fueled mix of walnuts, cashews, pistachios and almonds, hemp and sunflower seeds. There is even a little bit of organic chocolate. The trail mix has little seeds which gives it great texture. It's salty and sweet together. You might consider this to be a power snack to fuel a workout or a get you through a long stretch between meals. They are convenient and portable.

Savor Factor:  EatStrong describes their energy bar to be different than the typical "sawdust inspired edible doorstops or sweetener soaked preservative packs." This was truly not like energy bars that are covered in chocolate with a strong artificial taste. The EatStrong Energy Bar tasted crumbly, healthy, nutty, and a little sweet--earthy.

Mindful Eating Tip:  Keep one of these trail mixes or bars handy in your purse, desk drawer or coat pocket. The nut mix is slightly sweet but is hardy. This will keep you satisfied much longer than candy or a granola bar. Pack one trail mix or energy bar at a time in your bag. Without another bag calling to you from your back pocket, you can really draw your attention to savoring each bite--to taste the salty nuts, listen to the crunch of the nuts etc. You might try pouring the nut mix over cereal or yogurt for great texture.

The next time you eat any snack try doing your own review. Put on the hat of a food critic. Evaluate the 1) Mindful Eating Factor 2) Savor Factor and 3) Create Your Own Mindful Eating Tip.

 Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness. She is the author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful, and Mindful Eating 101 and is a Huffington Post blogger.  Her books have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Natural Health, Self Magazine and on the Dr. Oz TV show. Visit Albers online at http://www.eatingmindfully.com 

About the Author

Susan Albers, Psy.D.

Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness. 

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