We’re pretty sure you do mindless eating from time to time. It’s something we are so used to doing that we simply don’t immediately realize when we do it.
No? Ever tuck into a tub of ice cream standing in front of your refrigerator in the middle of night? What were you thinking then?
What Is Mindless Eating
Mindless eating is also known as binge eating, bored-eating (eating when bored), and mindless snacking.
Mindless eating is when you eat without paying attention to your food. When eating mindlessly, you eat fast and you eat more than you should.
The problem of eating mindlessly actually starts here: You don’t control your eating as much as you think.
The average person believes they make around 15 decisions about food every day. That figure is way off. Studies show actually it’s around 200 food-related choices you make each day.
However, the thing that’s more interesting is you can’t explain most of those decisions. Read that again: You don’t know and can’t explain why you’re eating most of the times that you eat mindlessly!
Why Do You Keep Snacking Mindlessly
- Are you fond of an afternoon snack?
- Are you in the habit of an after-dinner dessert?
- Do you automatically reach for a pack of snacks while busy on a television or Netflix show?
- Do you make a quick dash to the office cafe to grab a snack when the work gets too much?
All those above are mindless eating.
Most of the time, you don’t know why you’re eating, or even overeating. You just aren’t aware of the cues in your environment nudging you to take those decisions.
You finish a food serving because your plate isn’t empty yet. You chomp down the last few limp pieces of French fries because then you could throw the empty packet away.
You probably knew eating those were going to harm you later. But you took those calls because your mind was too busy being elsewhere. It forgot to tap you on your shoulder to point out the downsides of eating those.
So, it turns out, most of your eating decisions are mindless and unconscious decisions. You simply aren’t fully aware while eating. It’s just doesn’t come to you naturally to pay attention to what you are chewing, or stop after you finished chewing to find out if you’re full.
- You eat mindlessly because your mind is busy and wandering.
- You eat mindlessly because your brain has too much on its plate! (wink!)
Your occupied mind doesn’t find a chance to drop a hint you aren’t actually hungry most of the time that you’re eating. For one, a first-rate label on a wine bottle can make you eat more food, even when that premium looking sticker is fake.
Your tied-up brain doesn’t make you aware you’re shopping more food when you visit a supermarket on a hungry stomach. For another, the smell of fresh bake can make you buy more from a cake shop, without realizing it’s all a fragrance; they don’t bake their breads there.
By the way, can you eat yourself happier?
The 8 Practical Tips On How To Stop Eating Mindlessly
Before we begin, please keep in mind you might need to consult a counselor if your eating habits are mostly around emotional issues, and you’re unable to control those issues on your own.
Remember this: Your mental health is always a priority. Do not ever attach any stigma to asking for help for your depression, anxiety, or any other issue.
1. Change Your Food Buying Pattern
Do not buy food when you’re hungry, when you’re disappointed, or when you’re too happy.
HALT Method To Stop Binge Eating: There’s an acronym called HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). One great way to stop buying food or binge eating is to never go near food when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. In all probability, you’ll end us buying or eating way more than you have otherwise.
2. Change Your Behavior When You Eat
Do not eat while on the go, while watching a show, or talking to somebody even on a phone.
If you can’t find a place to sit down while you have some food in your hand, then at least find a place to stand, and eat while stationary. Do not start moving until you’ve finished or thrown off the food.
To stop snacking while watching a show, never begin with a bag or a bowl of quick bites. Beforehand, make strict rules you’ll stop watching the movie or the series as soon as you feel like going for a snack food to munch on.
If you’re eating while someone calls in, the best practice is to not take the call. If you can’t do that, then tell them you’re eating and will get back to them as soon as you finish.
3. Avoid Eating At All-Menu Buffet
The truth is, the more you see food, the more you tend to eat it.
Do not swing by an all-you-can-eat buffet spread. You just wouldn’t know why you had to taste all the dishes there until the time you’re stuffing yourself with some dessert.
4. Don’t Order Too Much Food
Do not order more than you can eat — you’ll end up eating all. And you’d do so because either you wouldn’t want the food to go waste, or you wouldn’t get it when to stop until the food is all gone. In each case, you will be eating way long after your stomach is full. So, do not eat to clean your plate.
5. Make Time To Eat
If you’re in the habit of grabbing a quick bite in the middle of some important task, stop doing it. Finish that task first, or postpone it, then eat.
Have a seat, even it’s just snack. Be kind to yourself — show some self-compassion. If you can’t find a seat, then find a wall to lean on while standing, and eat from that sedentary position.
Finally, don’t forget to let all other tasks to slip from your mind while you’re eating. Control the urge to get deals done while eating.
6. Take Long To Eat
Before you start eating, remind yourself you have a good amount of time to finish your food.
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating alone or in company, you don’t need to rush yourself through it. There isn’t a war going on, and you’re not sitting there in a combat gear. So tell yourself you can eat in peace.
Chew 32: To stop yourself from overeating, this the best method: take a long time to chew your food. To remember this, tell yourself you’ll chew each mouthful of your food 32 times — once each for thirty-two of your teeth.
Did you know the faster you eat, the more you eat?
7. Know Your Food
As you eat, let your mind follow the process closely.
Start to know your food as you pick it up and put into your mouth. Follow the morsel with your mind’s eye as it travels to you gut.
Stop eating as soon as you find out your mind has wandered away from your table. Call it back gently, and take it along your food’s journey.
8. Love Your Food
Recruit all your five senses to play a part in your act of eating. Savor the experience fully.
See your food with love. Feel it with your bite. Let your smell and taste indulge with it in an affair. Listen to it.
Don’t decide how much you’ll eat before you start to eat. Let your experience unfold. Feel the food make you satiated.
One last tip: Brush your teeth after your meals. It will help you keep off snacking at night or afternoon. Okay, it may not be possible to brush after lunch for most of us. In such case, carry a mouthwash and rinse your mouth thoroughly after eating.
The world we live in now is driven by online apps and social media. They have made our twenty-hours crazy busy. And the time they have robbed us of are from two things: sleeping and eating.
We don’t have time to sleep enough now. We don’t have time to eat with mindfulness.
We hope you do find time to do both. We hope you let go of your mindless eating, and start to eat without distraction. Do you have any idea how the Stoic philosophers ate?[By the way, if you were looking for a book by Brian Wansink on mindless eating, do read this article by Psychology Today first.]
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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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