Do you eat only when you are hungry, or do you find yourself mindlessly eating throughout your day? Do you struggle to lose weight and keep it off? Being mindful is not only good for your overall health, it is good for a healthy diet and for weight loss.
What is Mindless Eating?
The phrase “mindless eating” refers to the finding that people make on average 250 decisions each day about food. As you would expect that is remarkably more than we are aware of.
Why do we eat mindlessly?
Mindless eating will occur for many reasons. It is common today for individuals to eat at their desk, in their car or at a multitude of different events. When you eat when participating in another activity you aren’t paying attention to the food, but more likely are paying attention to the activity. Simply having a conversation at the dinner table may be a distraction that creates overeating for you. That, of course, is a wonderful part of meal time – enjoying time with family and friends – but understanding the mindless eating that may be occurring will help you to increase your mindfulness for your good health and for your waistline.
Mindful Eating Strategies.
1. Listen to your hunger.
Before you begin eating rank your hunger on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being not hungry at all and 5 being so hungry you could eat the couch. Then decide if you still want to eat.
When you are eating put your fork down between bites to slow down the rate at which you eat. Stop every few minutes and think about how you are feeling. Do you still feel physical hunger? Are you starting to feel full? A good goal is to stop eating when you feel 80% full, not 120% full.
2. Identify triggers to overeating.
Who are the people and what are the places, situations, thoughts or emotions that tend to lead to overeating?
You are much more likely to overeat when the triggers are high. The first step is to identify what are your triggers. Then be prepared with a distraction or substitution when you expect to be faced with a trigger. For example, if you overeat when you get tired then after a poor night’s sleep plan for an evening walk with a friend to prevent the eating in front of the TV that may occur otherwise. Or when going to an event that may be a trigger place or situation for you, make sure to eat a good meal before and bring with you a delicious and nutritious snack option. Being mindful by being prepared when a trigger occurs will help you to eat less and lose weight.
3. Choose foods that are satisfying.
Do you prepare food that is interesting and delicious? Or do you throw something from a box into the microwave to heat? If you enjoy your food you will be more likely to pay attention and be mindful of the meal. Plan meals so you look forward to food and can experience pleasure from the taste, smell and texture of each bite.
4. Eat foods that will nourish your body.
Food cravings will diminish and you will be less likely to overeat when your body is well nourished. If your diet is highly processed you may be lacking important nutrients for good health and weight loss. Create a plan filled with real foods and rich in nutrients that will help you to lose weight and have your best health.
Lynda Binius Enright, MS, RDN, LD, CLT
Be Well Nutritional Consulting
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