This is a guest post from Sam Negrin | creator and EIC of AllGoodHealth.net
Mindless eating is one of, if not the, biggest causes of weight gain. Mindless eating is defined as: 1) eating when you’re not hungry, 2) chewing but not actually enjoying or tasting the food, and 3) eating to the point of saying “OMG I’m so stuffed”. These types of eating habits occur mostly when we’re bored or uncomfortable. Whether you are digging into the free snack bowl at your job all day, hovering over the chips and dip at a party, or snacking while watching TV at home, chances are you’re eating when you’re not hungry. Here are 5 tasks to become more aware and stop over eating:
1. Cultivate Mind-Body Connection. This might be cliche, but so important. We need to create awareness within our mind and body to live a healthy life, and that means understanding our bodies messages. If your co-worker comes back from lunch with extra chips and guac, but you already ate a complete meal, you need to take a step back and understand the difference between want and need. Once in awhile, the extra chips and guac isn’t going to hurt. It’s social, fun and tasty. But if you fall into a pattern of taking up every offer for free food, you’re going to pack on weight faster than you can imagine. Do you need the extra food, or do you simply want it?
2. Drink Water Instead. Every time you gaze towards the bowl of trail mix in the company kitchen, drink a glass of water. When you’re in the middle of a movie and suddenly crave a trip to the kitchen, drink a glass of water. Water actually curbs our appetite. And assuming you aren’t truly hungry, the act of going to grab your glass of water is going to be distraction enough. You can even add lemon or mint to your water for an extra flavor and nutrition boost. Tea is a good, flavorful option too.
3. Eat Nutrient-Dense Meals. If our breakfast, lunch and dinner each consists of whole, unprocessed foods loaded with nutrients, the desire to snack rapidly decreases. We’re fueling our body with everything it needs to run properly, which in turn, sends energy and focus to our brain. When we nourish our bodies appropriately, we’re more productive and less likely to fall into bad habits. Remember, it’s not about quantity – a burger with fries for lunch is going to bog you down, where a nice filet of salmon with quinoa is going to lift you up.
4. Adjust Your Eating Patterns. Adjust your eating schedule appropriately. If you know that you love getting out of the office around 3pm for a snack, then you should adjust your lunch portion to meet that criteria. If you’re going to a movie after dinner, save dessert for the movie – don’t double up on sweets just because you are doing both. This will ensure you don’t consume too many calories throughout the day.
5. Address The Deeper Question. Are you totally bored at your job? Did you get a terrible night sleep? Are you using the hors d’oeuvres as a safety net at the party? Are you creatively stumped? Zoning out when we’re bored is so natural, everyone does it, so you should know you’re definitely not alone. But if it begins affecting your health, you need to dig to the root of your problem. You could be eating when you’re bored for any number of reasons. The next time you start, take a walk outside or a long pause to re-collect your thoughts.
Eating is not a one-size-fits-all assessment. The most important thing to do is listen to your body, cultivate that awareness between hunger and boredom, and be mindful throughout your day.