Catherine Saxelby

Nutritionist, Blogger, Award Winning Author
  • 18 September 2023

    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    What’s in your favourite tomato pasta sauce, and how much of it? Here are the most popular sauces reviewed for your reading ple...
  • 14 June 2023

    Protein-rich foods – serve sizes

    Protein, protein, protein. Are you getting enough? Here is a handy list of MEAT and NON-MEAT SOURCES of protein for you to prin...
  • 07 June 2023

    The truth behind coconut oil

    Many “health gurus” tout the benefits of coconut oil. Just type the term into any search engine and you’ll be flooded with arti...
  • 31 May 2023

    Gardening – is it really exercise?

    Did you know that gardening can reduce your risk of heart diseaset?  This month I’ll share this and the latest posts from ...
  • 17 May 2023

    Plant-based meat substitutes

    What do YOU think about plant-based meat substitutes? Veggie-loaded burgers? All-vegetable rissoles? Meatless Mondays?Yet anoth...
  • 10 May 2023

    The truth about lecithin

    What IS lecithin, I hear you ask. A popular “health food” supplement, lecithin is a type of fat called a phospholipid, which ha...
  • 03 May 2023

    Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    As you probably know already, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained favour as an alternative regimen to daily caloric restrictio...
  • 26 April 2023

    Reduce your risk of a knee replacement - if you lose weight

    Did you know that you can reduce your risk of needing a knee replacement by losing weight?  I’ll share this and the latest...
  • 19 April 2023

    Brighten your diet – eat by the rainbow

    What’s the first thing that strikes you when you walk into a fresh produce store? If you’re imagining the rainbow of colour…so ...
  • 29 March 2023

    Eat a high quality diet and there's less chance of overweight..

    Did you know that a better (high quality) diet can help you reduce overweight? I’ll share this and the latest posts from the Fo...

6 steps to eat mindfully

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 13 July 2010.
Tagged: eating mindfully, healthy eating, overweight, weight loss

6 steps to eat mindfully
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My friend Michele Connolly, who runs the Get Organised Wizard website, said on Twitter or X the other day: "Did I really eat that entire 200 gram bag of cheese-and-onion-chips during Grey's (Grey's Anatomy TV show)?" I half-jokingly tweeted back: That's mindless eating for you!

It struck me that her don't-remember-what-I-ate consumption of a whole pack of chips while engrossed in an interesting show is the perfect example of mindless eating. Distracted by watching TV or a movie, we mindlessly fill our mouths, short-circuiting our fullness signals. We keep on eating unaware of the huge amounts we're putting away. In my opinion this is an oft-overlooked cause of obesity.

The modern food supply encourages a grazing mentality via fast food drive-ins, vending machines full of snacky-junk food and confectionery counters at every retail outlet. What's more it actually encourages us to eat while doing other tasks.

"Multi-tasking" has long been a business buzz word but is often just a euphemism for eating while doing other things. Whether it's popcorn at the cinema, desktop dining while you work, dashboard dining as you drive or dinner in front of the TV, it all leads us to eat more than we need.

Mindless eating exposed

The author of the book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" (Bantam Books), says most of us overeat because we are distracted or are surrounded by junk food served in large portion sizes. We eat as if it's our mission to finish everything!

In one famous experiment, his team of researchers offered a free bucket of popcorn to moviegoers in return for answering a few (dummy) questions about the movie once it was over.

Half the moviegoers got a medium-size bucket weighing 120 g or 4.2 oz, while the other half were given the large-size, bigger-than-your-head, bucket weighing 235 g or 8.4oz.

Weighing the leftovers in the buckets after the movie, the researchers reported that the big-bucket group ate 53 per cent more popcorn (an average of 725 more kilojoules or 175 calories) while mindlessly munching. That's roughly the equivalent of 21 more dips into the bucket.

He repeated the experiment with stale, 14 day-old, popcorn and got similar results. After the movie, the researchers asked the moviegoers to describe the popcorn and they weighed how much popcorn was left in the containers.

Even though they described the popcorn as "stale" and "terrible", moviegoers with the larger containers still ate 34 per cent more than those given the medium-sized containers.

Eating with awareness - my 6 steps

To help yourself learn to eat with awareness, try these simple first steps to practice eating mindfully and prevent mindless consumption.

 Girl Noodles Eating smll

Your goal is to be conscious of how you're eating and what your stomach registers. When you're in touch with what is going on inside, you'll know the exact moment you are physically satisfied rather than over full or stuffed. It's the best technique for weight control and works regardless of what sort of diet you're on. I follow these steps every day and highly recommend this way of eating!

1. Sit down to eat, even if it's only for a snack. Turn the TV or laptop off and don't read. Let the food be the sole centre of your attention.

2. Take two deep breaths before you eat. Pause to reflect on what you're about to eat, being respectful of the dish in front of you and thankful for the food (a little like the old school-time grace). This is the best step of the six to practice when eating out or with others.

3. Chew each mouthful thoughtfully paying attention to the flavours and textures - some health food advocates have suggested at least 30 times per mouthful * but I personally think 10 times is plenty. It will still work. Put your knife and fork down between bites.

4. Slow things down. If you know you're a fast eater, try eating with chopsticks or with your non-dominant hand to slow things down.

5. Make serve sizes realistic. Plate up normal (not diet) portions of food.

6. Eat slowly and make the meal last at least 15 minutes.

Obviously you can't eat like this for every meal, every day but it's very useful to practice on a quiet weekend or when you're on your own. Use my Hunger and Fullness Log to help you.

* Horace Fletcher (1849-1919) was an American health-food faddist of the Victorian era, who used to make his patients chew their food 32 times before they swallowed. He was given the nickname "The Great Masticator" and was famous for saying: "Nature will castigate those who don't masticate." Fletcher argued that his mastication method would increase the amount of strength a person could have while actually decreasing the amount of food that they consumed. His chewing technique became known as "Fletcherizing" and he claimed it would turn "a pitiable glutton into an intelligent epicurean." He also advised against eating before being "Good and Hungry", or while angry or sad - strong emotions that can interfere with digestion and leave you with digestive upsets such as gas, bloating and bowel irregularities.


  • Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    18 September 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What’s in your favourite tomato pasta sauce, and how much of it? Here are the most popular sauces reviewed for your reading pleasure.

    I’ve rated nine of the most popular tomato pasta sauces in terms of their nutrition, ingredient lists and jar size. You’ll find many of these in your local supermarket. The sauces are ranked:

    • from Italian (Italy grows the reddest full-flavoured tomatoes) to Australian
    • per 100 grams, which is equivalent to 3½ ounces (the standard for comparing food products)
    • by serving size (varies between brands but is generally 100–175 g in size)
    • by ingredient list, jar size and where made (with each product’s website as the source)

    The bottom line

    When you’re next out shopping, run your eyes down the per 100 g column and look for products containing less than 400 mg sodium AND less than 5 g fat (which equals 5% fat). Most of the brands are below these levels. I like Barilla, Sacla, Leggo’s, La Gina and Mutti – but that’s just me!

    Read more
  • Product Review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    Product review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    1 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Want something to drink before dinner? Something that’s LOWER in alcohol than wine? To match his beer? Then look no further than Bundaberg’s low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer.

    You can drink Bundaberg low-sugar ginger beer straight from the can, or pour it into a long glass over ice with a slice of lime.


  • Product snapshot: Khorasan Macaroni

    Product snapshot: Berkelo’s Khorasan Macaroni

    14 September 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    I’m loving this macaroni from Berkelo. I was sent a sample for Whole Grain Week 2022 by the Grains Legume Nutrition Council. I cooked it up and found that it was just divine! Read on for more …

  • Product Review: super-high-oleic-safflower-oil

    Product review: Super high-oleic safflower oil

    11 May 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    “What does super high-oleic mean?” I hear you ask.  Also, “I haven’t heard of safflower for ages. What’s the deal?” Read on and all will be explained.

  • Product Review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    Product review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    6 April 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When I was first asked to write this review, I thought, Not another tracker.

    After all, there have been several in recent years, such as My Fitness Pal and Everyday Diet Diary. But this one is different. It works by using your Everyday Rewards card AND your shop at Woolworths.

  • Product review: Lite n' Easy

    Product review: Lite n' Easy

    20 October 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    With home delivery on the rise, this post is reviewing none other than that stalwart Lite n’ Easy. We all know their meals are good for weight loss (which we all need after COVID-19!), but did you know they’re also good for general health and wellbeing ? Eating well to nourish yourself – putting your mental health and wellbeing at the forefront – is gaining momentum. Lite n’ Easy meals also ensures you satisfy your need for vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-compounds, such as sterols and carotenoids.

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Lite n' Easy.  


  • Product review:  Birds Eye Plant Based range

    Product review: Birds Eye Plant Based range

    15 September 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When you think of Birds Eye, their frozen peas and fish fingers probably come to mind. But I bet you’d never think of plant-based products!

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Birds Eye. 

Healthy Weight Loss

  • Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    3 May 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    As you probably know already, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained favour as an alternative regimen to daily caloric restriction (DCR). Fasting is shown to extend the lifespan of rats, and has been associated with metabolic benefits in humans, yet the results so far have been inconsistent. So, which regimen is best for healthy weight loss?

    Read more
  • The lifestyle diet craze

    The lifestyle diet craze

    15 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What sort of a diet should you follow to lose that excess weight? These days, it’s pretty confusing with high-protein Keto advocates clashing with plant-protein followers … as well as intermittent fasters, juice-only dieters, no-carb dieters and no-animal (aka plant-based) dieters. Plus all the ads for anti-hunger supplements, meal-replacement shakes and home-delivered meals, more of which somehow appear every day. So, what sort of diet should YOU follow to lose that excess?

  • Protein shakes for weight loss

    Protein shakes for weight loss

    9 November 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    These days, protein shakes aren’t bought by just body builders – they’re so popular that you can readily buy a 400 g tub at your local supermarket or service station. And with tempting claims such as ‘Facilitates muscle toning’, ‘Contains transformation-making protein’ and ‘Tastes incredible, mixes easily’, why wouldn’t you grab one? But protein shakes aren’t the magic answer to all your weight-loss woes. Let’s take a look at what you get for your money.

    Guest post by dietitian Zoe Wilson APD

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to beat those cravings

    20 January 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Many of us have cravings from time to time and for different reasons. One thing is certain, they can sabotage all your best efforts at a healthy diet and/or weight loss. The good news? You CAN beat them. I’ll tell you how.

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to lose weight WITHOUT going on a diet

    14 October 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    The word 'diet' is a turn-off for most people. It sounds hard, unpleasant and unpalatable. Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard AND it doesn’t have mean sticking to a 'diet'. You can forget Paleo, Keto, Vegan and Raw, Gluten-free and Intermittent Fasting. To lose weight, you don’t have to follow any specific diet. What you need is simple, healthy, nutritious food and a few tips and tricks.

  • What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    16 September 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Healthy weight loss happens when you lose weight slowly and steadily (around 1 kg or 2 pounds weight loss a week). Your goal is to lose weight while still getting your essential nutrients but from smaller portions. You certainly don’t want to be tired with no energy! That’s why you need regular healthy meals and snacks on hand to ensure your vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and fibre needs can be easily met. There is a new range of healthy weight loss meals available and it’s one that I’d like to recommend. With these ready meals, you’ll say goodbye to meal planning, shopping, meal preparation and cooking.

    This post is sponsored by Chefgood 

  • Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    8 January 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

     “This year, I'm going to lose weight!”, or “This year I’m opting for a healthier lifestyle!” Is your 2020 New Year's resolution something like one of these? If so, how is it going to happen?