Mindless eating is the culprit in many weight loss and health issues. When you're not completely mentally present and engaged while eating and making food decisions, it is easy to rush through your meals, overeat or make unhealthy food choices. Here are five ways to avoid mindless eating.
1. Eat Only When Hungry
This seems like simple advice but it is an important part of avoiding mindless eating. It is common for people to eat when they are bored, stressed out or feeling sad. This is known as emotional eating and is a pattern that can lead to overeating or eating too much of the wrong foods. The best way to combat emotional eating is to check in with yourself on a regular basis to be sure that you're eating because you're hungry.
2. Replace Emotional Eating with an Activity
When you do realize that you are eating because of an emotional need, think of another activity that will make you feel better. For example, instead of eating chocolate or a bag of potato chips, maybe go for a walk, call a supportive friend or family member, write in a journal, listen to your favorite music or meditate. Exercise is also a great activity to replace emotional eating. It will enhance your mood and burn up calories.
3. Avoid Set Meal Times
One way to avoid mindless eating is to be flexible in your meal times. Sometimes you don't have a choice because your work schedule demands that you take a lunch break at a set time. However, when you do have a choice, for example, at dinner time or on the weekends, avoid eating by the clock. Eating at set times is problematic because you are on automatic. You are not reaching for food because you are necessarily hungry. You are eating because others are eating or because you think you should be eating.
4. Listen to Your Body's Signals
To become more mindful of your eating patterns, listen to your body for a hunger signal and eat only at those times. When you're in the middle of a meal, pay attention to when you're feeling full. It's easy when dining with others, eating out or eating at someone's home to eat because everyone else is, or to be polite and finish everything on your plate. In reality, the healthiest thing to do is to stop eating when you're feeling full.
Pay attention to your body. It will let you know when you have reached the satiety point. You can always get your leftovers to go or place them in the fridge for the next day. You will enjoy your food more when you're truly hungry.
5. Enjoy Your Food
Speaking of enjoyment, in a fast-paced life, it's easy to rush through meals or eat them on the go. When you sit down to eat, really tune into the tastes, smells and texture of your food. Eat slowly. Chew your food enough. Some foods taste better the longer you chew them. Chewing your food enough is also very important and healthy for your digestive system.