Have you experienced mindless eating?
If this question didn’t bring up some situations you’ve been in, please share your secret with me! Mindless eating is so common that it is almost the norm now. It could be out at a restaurant talking with friends and family and all of a sudden the bowl of chips in front of you is gone. Mindless eating is when you are not fully connected to the food you are eating. Not knowing when you are satisfied from eating because you are mindlessly eating.
I promise I have been there. Mindless eating leads to overconsumption, uncomfortable feelings and a lack of satisfaction with food. All of these can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
Let’s talk about some signs that mindless eating is happening and how we can help it!
1. Eating to find comfort
I am the first person to say that food is so yummy! Of course we want to eat foods that we enjoy eating. Food is culture. Food is a celebration. Food can also be a form of comfort. This can be a tricky situation when a little too much comfort happens.
When we eat for comfort, it is usually a way for us to cope or find joy from a previous negative situation. A stressful situation with work or family could lead to wanting food. Or have you ever come home from a long day and said I just need a glass of wine or chocolate?
This feeling of needing comfort from food can often lead to mindlessly eating. Using food as an escape can lead to this.
2. Social gatherings or certain environments
Have you ever noticed that certain places or events lead to eating an abundance of food? Tailgates. Wine nights. Happy hours. Food is not meant to be feared at social gatherings like this. However, it is common to constantly want to eat when you are surrounded by alllll of the tailgate goodness. Just a few bites of dip here and then a few candies there. All while socially talking to those friends around you. Again, this is not a negative event that you should miss, but the mindless eating can be seen here.
How often have you noticed that you feel like you have nothing else to do but eat? Or you are watching a movie and need something to do with your hands, so grabbing a bag of snacks is your go to.
Boredom eating becomes a habit very quickly. If you come home every day from work and dinner is not for another hour or two, do you think you need a snack out of a habit to fill the time? Every time you are bored and going to the kitchen sounds fun, you are creating these habits.
4. A specific eating schedule
Have you ever said I am not hungry so I won’t eat or that you are but it is not mealtime so you won’t eat? These schedules that you put on yourself can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Try listening to those hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry and listen to your body when you are starting to feel full. Being in tune with your digestion can significantly decrease mindless eating.
How to not mindlessly eat?
I challenge you to start looking at your days and noticing when some of these habits are occurring. Mindless eating sneaks up on you if you are not in tune with your body. The more you focus on listening to your body, the easier it is to notice when mindless eating occurs. Shifting the mindset to nourishing your body properly vs. rules around eating has significantly helped me. I eat at different times of the day with different portions at each meal and snack depending on my hunger levels. I also allow myself to say ‘no thank you’ now if I truly do not want the food offered to me.
At the end of the Authentic Health Nutrition Guide I go through each step of Intuitive Eating and how to practice it. This will help decrease mindless eating as well as improve negative thoughts and actions surrounding food.