Do you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry? Do you grab food when passing it to others, walking by someone’s desk or eating unconsciously when you’re reading or watching TV? If so, here’s your toolkit to effectively tackle mindless eating . . . and show it who’s boss.
1. Create an Awareness:
Have you ever seen someone eat off someone else’s plates, eat while packaging up leftovers or make others uncomfortable because she lost her judgment when drinking too much? When we’re able to look at something objectively we often see how we must look when we do the same thing. If you don’t like how it looks, make the commitment to change and don’t do it yourself.
Imagine every morsel of food you eat in one day including all the snacks, sweets, treats and handfuls of food you may have grabbed while preparing meals, watching TV, etc.. Now imagine putting it all on one plate. Visualize this plate in addition to the meals you sat down to eat throughout the day. How does your plate look? Is it overflowing?
3. Divert Your Attention:
Often just getting involved in another activity is enough to stop you from “mindless munching”. Try calling a friend, answering emails, taking a walk, cleaning out a drawer or doing something you enjoy that will pull your attention away from eating when it’s your mind and not your body that’s asking for food.
4. Instill a Non-Negotiable Rule:
Being 100% committed is actually easier than being 99% committed because there’s no room to talk yourself in or out of something. One way to make this easy is with a non-negotiable rule like: “no taking the escalator when I see the stairs”, “no seconds unless it’s vegetables or water or “no standing when eating.” Whatever your rule, create it then commit to it fully.
5. Make it Difficult to Eat:
Find an activity that makes it difficult, uncomfortable or impossible to do while eating. Here are a few: brushing the dog’s fur, knitting, polishing your nails, wearing kitchen gloves and the list goes on and on. Whatever the activity, you need to be unable to eat or at least uncomfortable eating while doing it.
In our overextended, busy lives we often don’t get enough of the deep, restorative sleep we need to feel energized and refreshed. That’s when we often turn to caffeine and sugar to give us that extra boost. Instead of treating the real need with a temporary and unhealthy solution, get to the root instead and work on getting more and better quality sleep.
7. Snap out of It:
So often we find ourselves mindlessly snacking and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it! Have you ever found yourself opening up your refrigerator or cabinets and not realizing how you got there? Have you ever sat down to watch a show on TV with a bowl of popcorn and realized you polished off the entire bowl? Recognizing what we’re doing connects the brain to what our hands and mouth are up to.
When you find yourself snacking ask the question, “What am I really hungry for? Maybe it’s some downtime, a deeper connection with your partner, a more fulfilling career or a better outlet to help control your stress. So often we use food to soothe, calm, numb and relax from our problems or our pain. Food is a way we’ve chosen to self-medicate and it’s our “drug” of choice. Finding out what you need feeds what you’re really looking to feed; your body, mind and soul.
9. Heed the Need:
Hear, value and respect the message your body is telling you. If you need a break, take one. If you need healthier relationships, work towards it, if you need greater fulfillment, find out how you can pursue your dream and if you need to have that challenging conversation with someone, have it. When you’re mindlessly snacking, food is not the answer. It’s simply a tool trying to distract you from handling the real need that’s unmet.
Positive relationships not only give us a feeling of support, connectedness, community and friendship. They actually boost our immune systems and improve our health! If you’re struggling, ask for help from family, friends and like-minded people who are creating healthier habits too. Find a coach, nutritionist, dietitian, trainer or health expert. Read books, listen to recordings, teleseminars and webinars. Find apps, magazines, online and offline sources all designed to inspire, support and help you achieve the body and health you deserve!