Do you ever find yourself in the middle of eating something and you didn’t even realize what you were doing it? Until it’s too late, that is. Keep reading to find 7 ways to overcome Mindless Eating.
What did you eat yesterday?
Can’t remember? Neither can most anyone else.
And even if you can remember most of it, do you have any idea how much you ate?
If like most people you eat mindlessly, the answer is almost certainly “NO.”
Mindless eating contributes to poor health, and just plain eating too much. You could gain 10–50 pounds in a year without having the tiniest clue how it happened.
You probably don’t even know you’re doing it (it’s not called mindless for nothing).
In fact, you probably had no idea it was something to worry about.
But now that you do know, let’s explore some ways to overcome it.
Stash The Tempting Treats
All day long colorful jelly beans tempt you from the gleaming clear bowl at the corner of your desk. Try as you may, you cannot ignore them.
One simple solution is to stash them out of sight. In a drawer across the room, or away from your space altogether. If that’s not possible, obtain an opaque bowl with a lid.
Once you stash them, you should find yourself indulging far less often.
I use this trick every day. Where I work, the boss loves red licorice and so do I. It would tempt me from its giant tub in the common area I walked by frequently. Unsurprisingly, I found it nearly impossible to resist. Now that I’ve hidden it from sight in a cupboard I rarely indulge.
Simple Hacks for Healthy Snacks
With the tempting treats out of sight, now you can ensure that healthy snacks are front and center. Why not replace the candies with a bowl of fruit?
Besides being better for your physical health, new research suggests eating more fruit (along with veggies) may make you happier!
Speaking of veggies, make sure when you open your fridge you see colorful vegetable snacks right away. Baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced red peppers and more are satisfying snacks along with some healthy dip.
Now that the licorice is out of sight, I make sure my cut vegetables and homemade dip are front and center in the refrigerator at work.
One Easy Way to Eat Less
Like most people, you probably eat too fast. Inhaling your food can lead to all sorts of problems, including poor digestion, weight gain, and less satisfaction with meals.
Instead, try to take at least 20 minutes to savor your meals; 30 is even better. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register fullness, so this is important.
Not only will slowing down improve your digestion, but it will help you eat more mindfully. You can eat to satisfaction and stop when you’ve had enough.
Netflix Is Not an Ideal Dining Partner
If, that is, you’re sprawled on the couch with a bag of Doritos. Or a pan of brownies. Or some buttered popcorn.
It’s certainly possible to have a meal while watching TV if it’s planned and portion-controlled. My husband and I eat dinner most evenings while watching the news.
If you do eat while engaged in some other activity, make sure it’s a planned meal. Mindlessly eating snacks while watching TV or surfing the net is almost never a good idea. It’s just too easy to lose track and get into trouble.
Variety Isn’t Always the Spice of Life
Supermarkets and restaurants present us with almost overwhelming choices. Choice is great, but it can be too much of a good thing.
Lots of variety with fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods is nearly always good. But desserts and snacks? Not so much. Too much variety can lead to overeating. After all, you want to try a bit of everything, right?
So, for the healthy stuff, include lots of variety. For snacks and sweets, keep the variety to a minimum.
Storage Containers are Your New Best Friends
Do you shop at any of the warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club? Then this tip’s for you. Finding that bargain deal on tortilla chips may seem like you just won the lottery, but not if it compels you to eat more. You don’t want them to go stale, right?
Get some trusty storage containers or Zip-lock bags and portion the chips out into normal sized packages. Then store the extras somewhere other than the daily cupboards or pantry so they’re less tempting.
One of my favorite types of produce storage container is Rubbermaid FreshWorks. These totally live up to their promise! I don’t throw out near as much fresh berries, lettuce, or other greens now.
Only bring more out when the first bag is empty. Out of sight out of mind may be trite, but no less true.
Be Careful Who You Eat With
Eating with friends and loved ones can be a special experience. But who you dine with can potentially put you in the mindless eating danger zone.
With a little forethought, you can reduce or eliminate possible traps. For example, are you surprised that if you sit next to someone who generally eats a lot, or eats quickly, you are more likely to do so?
If you can, try to sit with people who aren’t huge eaters, or with those who pace themselves.
If that’s impossible, at least try to be the last person served so you don’t find yourself trying to keep up.
Imagine a year from now. Instead of wondering how in the world you gained 10 or 20 pounds without realizing it, you are 10 or 20 pounds lighter!
And you know exactly why. You focused on eating mindfully instead of in a rush while a million other things were going on.
Focusing on just one of these areas can make a surprising difference in how you approach your meals. Eating shouldn’t be a mindless exercise. Ideally you want to savor your meals and snacks, reflecting on how the food nourishes you.
By focusing on one idea at a time, you can slowly build awareness into your eating habits. Before you know it, what could have been a 10–50 pound gain over a year could go in the other direction.