How to Spot and Stop Mindless Eating
By Pamela Kuehl, LPC
Most of us have the bad habit of eating without thinking and we probably don’t even realize we’re doing it. It’s as simple as we’re bored, so we eat. We nibble while we watch TV or play on the computer or drive the car and before we know it, we’ve ploughed our way through an entire bag of chips. It’s a tough habit to break because we have trained ourselves to mindlessly reach for comfort food every time we have the slightest emotional distraction. But mindless eating often leads to weight gain and poor health.
Does this reasonate for you? If it does, you are not alone. Here are some steps to help you have better focus on what you’re putting in your mouth.
Below are a few tips on how to spot mindless eating and stop it:
Tip 1: Record your food and drink intake. Journaling food and drink intake will help you to recognize what and how much food are you consuming. Remember to journal what you drink too. Soft drinks may quench your thirst but they are often loaded with sugar, so you may not realize how many excess calories you are taking in. If you find yourself not wanting to journal, then you need to make an extra effort to do so. Often, people want to avoid journaling to escape dealing with the mindless eating.
Tip 2: Identify and learn what triggers you to eat. There are both sensory and emotional triggers of food. Sensory triggers are: seeing the food, smelling the food, wanting more of the food because you like the taste, hearing someone talk about the food, eating because other people are eating, and physical hunger. Emotional triggers of eating are: happy, sad, depressed, anxious, bored, lonely, and fatigue.
Tip 3: Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is the practice of being aware of how much you eat, what you are eating, being guided by nutritional value of food, being aware of your judgments towards food, knowing your triggers of eating, eating slowly- taking 20-30 minutes to eat a meal, chewing your food 20-30 chews per bite, savoring your food, and meeting your desire for food.
Tip 4: Learn about the nutritional value of food. Educating yourself on the nutritional value of food and how your body uses food is important. This will aide you in making healthy choices that allow you to use “food as fuel” for the body.