How many times have you sat down to watch a film on a Saturday night with a bag of popcorn/ crisps/ chocolate and finished the lot before the movie’s barely begun? Or when you’re sitting at your desk at work making your way through endless emails, you also make your way through an entire packet of biscuits?
This is known as mindless eating,
and it’s a big problem when people are trying to lose weight.
The following factors can lead to mindless eating:
Distraction: this is very common, and happens whenever something such as TV, work or conversations take your mind away from how much you’re eating.
Boredom: often people eat when they’re not hungry as it gives them something to do.
Emotional eating: many people turn to food for comfort if they’re sad or use it as a reward for achieving something.
Lack of awareness: sometimes it’s not obvious how much you’re actually eating, especially if you’re eating from a sharing pack of crisps/ chocolate etc. and not measuring out your portions.
Advertisements: we’re constantly and unnaturally being exposed to food (90% of the time it’s unhealthy), through adverts on social media, TV or billboards, which often make people ‘crave’ it and immediately want to eat it (it also doesn’t help that we can order it to our door in less than half an hour).
If you can relate to any of the above (and don’t feel guilty, because I guarantee the majority are in the same boat),
continue reading. Learn to become more mindful. More aware.
Remove distractions and create a healthy eating environment. Eat away from the TV, computer and your phone so you can be more present in the moment. Hide any unhealthy snacks away in cupboards so they don’t tempt you, and keep a fridge stocked with fresh and healthy foods.
Slow down and chew more. Your body can take up to 20 minutes to realise it’s full, so the longer you take to eat, the sooner you’ll feel full and you’ll eat less as a result. Chewing your food more can help with this.
Think about your feelings and emotions when you eat. Are you eating because you’re hungry or are you eating to cheer you up? If it’s the latter, consider other ways of cheering yourself up, such as going to the gym or going for a walk.
Use a food diary. Make a physical note of everything you eat and drink day to day to help make yourself aware of how much you’re actually consuming. It can be very easy to not account for certain snacks when you don’t log them.
Measure/ weigh out your food. This helps with portion control and ensures you’re eating the correct calories for your needs.
Notice your hunger cues. Think about if you are genuinely hungry or if you just want something to do. Only eat when you’re really hungry. If you’re bored, I'm sure you can find much healthier ways of entertaining yourself. Start embracing the feeling of hunger. It’s not a bad thing if you know where your next meal is coming from.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll soon notice how much better you’re eating, and how much less you’re snacking!
If you still find self awareness around food a challenge, look at getting the aid of a coach. More commonly than not, being held accountable might well be the focus you need.