This Simple Technique Could Make You Think Twice Before Snacking

Hand picks up piece of chocolate from a plate
(Image credit: Grace Cary / Getty Images)

Do you sometimes find yourself standing in front of the fridge or cupboard, munching something mindlessly? Perhaps then feeling guilty, or thinking that it doesn’t count because it happened so quickly?

There’s a technique that might help you make more deliberate snack choices. It’s not about rules and restrictions, just about making a conscious choice. Once you’re thinking more mindfully about food you may even find you’re not visiting the snack cupboard as much. 

Dr Romi Ran is a clinical psychologist specializing in food, eating and body image. She has published a book, Bite Sized Peace: Change How You Eat, Accept Your Body, Transform Your Life, in which she champions a compassionate approach to food.

I interviewed Ran about mindful eating and she explained why we should learn to listen to our body, rather than restrict calories and deny ourselves certain foods. She revealed how shifting your focus from weight loss goals to value-based goals that aim to improve your health can have some surprising benefits.

In Bite Sized Peace there are many techniques such as mindful plating, and exercises to help you tune into your body and change your mindset about food. There are no more “good” and “bad” foods, you just have to trust your body wants the foods that it needs.

About Our Expert
Dr Romi Ran headshot
About Our Expert
Dr Romi Ran

Dr Romi Ran is a clinical psychologist, a protected title in the UK which requires her to be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. She is also a member of the British Psychological Society. She gained a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The University of Oxford and has worked as a research coordinator in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. 

What is mindful plating?

“Mindful plating is a technique that can help cultivate mindful eating,” says Ran. “It will help you savor each bite, make conscious choices and develop a more gratifying relationship with food.” This technique, she says, even applies to snacking. 

“If you want to change your relationship with food, start by putting your food on a plate, whatever it is,” says Ran. That’s right, even if it’s crisps or a chocolate bar.

If you’re going to have some crisps, rather than having a few hurried handfuls or finishing off the packet (because you might as well), Ran suggests putting your serving on a plate and sitting down to eat it, without judgment.

How can mindful plating help curb snacking habits?

“It’s giving you an opportunity to pause before you mindlessly start putting food in your mouth, which is always a useful thing,” says Ran. “It allows you to consider how much you want to take. You can always take more—this isn’t a diet. The idea is you’re not following a predetermined portion size that the crisp marketeer decided on.”

Putting food on a plate helps encourage mindful eating because you’re giving it your full attention. “Attend to the taste, the texture, the smells, the sounds, the whole experience,” says Ran. “It’s a mechanism to allow you to infuse your eating experience with mindfulness and attention.”

Mindful plating allows you to see what’s going on with your behavior, too. “This moment becomes an opportunity to pause, check in with yourself and ask, if you genuinely want more or if you are just eating out of habit.” Food for thought. 

Bite Sized Peace: Change How You Eat, Accept Your Body, Transform Your Life by Dr Romi Ran was published in January 2024

Camilla Artault
Content editor

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, running bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.