People tend to eat more of whatever they start with, so make that salad. (Fotolia / July 16, 2014)

We all complain of not having enough time--even for sitting down to a quiet meal. Instead, we often find ourselves eating in the car, at the computer, or while working. These distractions create an environment for making poor food choices, such as eating too much at one time and munching on unhealthy snacks high in sugar, saturated fat and salt.

Frequently, we eat mindlessly, unaware of what and how much we consume, which contributes to our growing waistbands, as well as the onset of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Keep track of what and how much you eat by turning off your smart phone, TV and computer while you eat.

"You can become mindful of your food environment and set yourself on the right path for making healthy eating decisions," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) and author of "Mindless Eating."

The trick is to arrange your environment so that it supports healthier eating. EN share some top tips for more mindful and better eating.


1. Make a dish swap

Replace your 12-inch plate with a smaller dinner plate. According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, people tend to over-serve themselves on larger plates; the bigger your dinnerware, the bigger the portion you dish for yourself. A two-inch difference in plate diameter--from 12 inches to 10 inches--results in 22 percent fewer calories served. If a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 pounds per year for the average adult.

2. Make a color change

Changing the color of your dishes can change your consumption, too. The same study found that a serving dish that offered higher contrast, for example pasta with red marinara sauce served on a white plate vs. a red plate, reduced how much people served themselves by 21 percent. The higher contrast between the plate and the food makes the serving look larger.

3. Create workplace wellness

According to Cornell Research, most people lose weight during weekdays and gain weight on weekends. And individuals who show the largest decrease in weight between Monday and Friday are more likely to maintain a healthy weight over time.

The take home message? For a healthy overall weight, set up a nutritious environment at work to help you eat better Monday through Friday. For example, replace candy with nutritious snacks like carrots, celery or toasted walnuts.

4. Slow down and incorporate your senses

Instead of shoveling food into your mouth, slow it down. It takes time for your brain to register when you have had enough to eat. Barbara Stuckey, food developer and author of "Taste What You're Missing: The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Food Tastes Good," believes that we need to incorporate all of our senses into the eating experience.

Slowing down and tasting, seeing, touching and actually, yes, listening to your food can make a more enjoyable eating experience and help prevent overeating.

5. Turn it off

Avoid reading and turn off your smart phone, television and computer while you eat, as these activities can distract you from paying attention to what and how much you eat. Instead, savor your food in order to lower food consumption and increase the pleasure of your meal.

6. Reduce your package and serving size