Food/Nutrition Columnist
The Best Way To Eat – Use Thin Eating Habits
Feb 3, 2014 - 12:03:00 AM

( - Everybody has a skinny friend who they secretly hate. Her dress size has not changed in years and she never seems to think about food. What is her secret? People who appear to stay slim do have secrets. They practice thin eating habits without even giving this healthy eating behavior a second thought. You can adopt these thin eating habits, too.

Eat slowly

Researchers know that it takes at least 10 minutes for a feeling of fullness to be processed by the brain. It may take even more time if a person is overweight. Weighing too much may disrupt or damage the message system between eating, the stomach and the brain.

To help you feel full without overeating there are a number of thin eating habits to try. Note the time you started eating and stretch the meal to last at least 10 minutes. Sip water or another no-calorie beverage between bites. Put your fork down between bites. Swallow each mouthful completely before you take another bite. Talk to your meal companion -- you won't hold a conversation with food in your mouth.

Leave serving dishes on the counter or stove

Getting up to take seconds requires more time and effort than simply reaching for a spoon. This simple thin eating habit creates a pause in the meal that might be just long enough to help you decide if you are still hungry.

Eat from plates not packages

Nibbling from a package of chips or spooning ice cream directly from the carton is a recipe for overeating. Use a plate, serve out a portion and put the package away.

Don't eat on the go

Simply not eating on the move can cut hundreds of calories a day! There is a candy store next to most bus and subway stops. Malls have food courts and ice cream shops. Bookstores serve coffee and cake. It's too easy to eat as you move through your day. Sit at a table and enjoy what you eat. No more eating in the car, munching in the lounge chair in front of the TV, or snacking in bed.  When was the last time you saw a new car without a cup holder? We are being programmed to eat on the move.

Quit the clean plate club

As kids, many of us were encouraged to eat every bit of food on our plates, even if we were full. We were told by well-meaning parents -- people were starving! Those same people are still starving while you pack on extra pounds. Over 50% of adults clean their plates, even when they're full. Slim people do not. To get this thin eating habit going, make a conscious effort to leave a few bites uneaten. Better yet eat half and take half home. As time goes on it will be easier to stop when you've eaten enough.

Resist the "Now I've blown it!" syndrome

No one is perfect. You ate the whole piece of cheesecake? So what! One large meal, one dessert, one bag of chips did not make you overweight. It was one large meal after another, too many desserts, and far too many bags of chips. When you are trying to lose weight, you either stick to your diet strictly or you blow it by overindulging. This all-or-nothing approach never works. Everybody who is trying to change will backslide every now and then. Don't waste time being guilty, just re-institute thin habits and get going in the right direction again.

Keep food out-of-sight, out-of-reach

Candy dishes, cookie jars, and open bags of chips on the counter all spell temptation. Put all food and snacks out of sight, in covered containers, so you cannot snatch a snack spontaneously. Purge the house of your hidden reserves -- peanuts in the den, cookies in the night stand, candy in the desk drawer. Keep food in the kitchen.

Bottom line: the road to healthy eating is always under construction.

You might want to take a look at a past column Kick Start Healthy Habits - When To Eat. (+ link). In a future column we'll tackle more thin eating habits that give you tips on what to eat.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.

Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.

Look for:

The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed., 2014

The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, 2014

The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013

The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013

The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012

The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010

The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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