The Importance Of Mindful Eating (And Plating Takeaway Food)

Caucasian woman eating Chinese food on sofa
Mike Kemp via Getty Images
Caucasian woman eating Chinese food on sofa

When you order takeaway food you’re most likely going to tuck in straight away and eat the whole thing, even if you are full.

What many of us might not realise, however, is how much food there actually is in a takeaway container.

Out of sheer hanger, we can mindlessly plough through the whole serving, not listening to our satiety cues.

Enter mindful eating, a practice we can all easily include in our day-to-day lives to help us to not overeat, digest food better, enjoy food more and, as a result, maintain a healthy weight.

“One of the biggest issue with overconsumption is that people eat mindlessly,” accredited practising dietician Caroline Trickey told The Huffington Post Australia.

“Before you start eating anything, check in and see how hungry you are and have a look at the food in front of you, and then determine whether you really need to eat all of it,” Trickey said.

Once you have registered how hungry you are, the next step is to eat your meal slowly -- and away from your desk.

“The more slowly you eat, the better you can tell when you’re full because there is that gap between when our tummy is full and our brain registers it’s full,” Trickey said.

“You will also digest the food better,” Trickey said. “Normally when you eat more slowly you chew your food properly -- a lot of people just go, ‘chew-chew-swallow.'”

“After they have eaten they’re not only overly full, but they feel like they’ve got a lump in their stomach.”

The reason why we should be eating away from our work desks or computers is so we are physically looking at our food -- an often overlooked, but important, factor to help feel satiated.

“Many people think, ‘It’s lunchtime but I’ve got to answer these emails’, so they will eat lunch in front of the computer and not focus at all on what they’re eating,” Trickey said.

“Your brain needs to see how much you’re eating -- it helps with understanding how much we’ve had to eat and helps us feel full.”

While you eat slowly, also be aware of the food you are chewing and really taste the flavours, and take time to look at the food and its different colours and textures.

“You will get a feeling of satisfaction when you taste the food -- you really enjoy what you’re eating and this helps us feel more full,” Trickey said.

“Practise mindful eating as often as you can,” Trickey said.

Without mindfulness, we are more likely to tuck into a takeaway dish and finish it, not realising that you were full five minutes ago.

These takeaway food containers might look like regular servings -- however, as shown below, they contain much more than we think.

“Our perception of how much we eat can be very distorted,” Trickey told HuffPost Australia. “But if you eat more mindfully, and with that awareness of the volume, then you're more likely to eat the right portion for your appetite at that time."

Mindless eating can also result in reaching for unhealthy food soon after eating a big meal.

“An hour later, even though your stomach is full, your brain might be telling you that you’re hungry,” Trickey said. “And you won't be reaching for an apple or a banana -- you’ll be reaching for chocolate and those high energy foods.”

Aside from mindful eating, Trickey recommends these great tips when eating takeaway food.

Halve the portion and put in on a plate

“People probably aren’t aware of the portion size -- they see the container and the way it’s packaged doesn’t make it look that big, but when you put it on a plate you can’t believe how much is in there,” Trickey said.

“We need to be wary whenever someone else is serving up portion sizes of food for us because it’s not necessarily the ideal portion we need,” Trickey said.

“Putting it on a plate is a very good idea,” Trickey said. “You could portion half the container in a bowl or plate and keep the leftovers for the next day.”

Add a side of vegetables

Takeaway food is usually full of carbohydrates and fat, but it usually misses one important component: vegetables.

“That’s the issue when you buy take away food -- you’re probably not going to be given much protein (because that’s one of the most expensive components), you’re usually going to get way more carbohydrates than you need and you’re not going to get nearly as much vegetables or salad you need,” Trickey said.

To make sure you’re getting enough veggies, Trickey recommends ordering a side serve of salad or vegetables.

Do you eat a whole serving of Chinese takeaway like most of us? Check out how much food is really in these four takeaway meals.

Mongolian Beef

Asian takeaway is notorious for packing in a lot of food in one container. Take this Mongolian beef with fried rice, for example. There is enough left for at least one more large serving.

Fish, Rice and Salad

As you can see, after serving up a generous serving of this meal, there is still a considerable amount of rice left over.


Instead of eating the whole burrito in one go, cut in it in half and eat it mindfully. If you find you are still hungry, go ahead and eat the rest until you are full.


A regular container of ravioli contains much more pasta than you think. A full bowl still leaves enough pasta for a whole other meal -- perfect for lunch tomorrow!

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