Mindful eating: eating with intention and attention, or eating with purpose and awareness.
You might be thinking, I didn’t sign up for a vocabulary lesson this morning! But the idea of mindful eating is so important for every person, not just if you have had a weight loss surgery. The anti of mindful eating is, you guessed it, mindless eating. Mindless eating promotes habits and unsatisfying moments. When we gain a better grasp on coping with emotions, stress, boredom, etc there is less satisfaction with eating during these moments and you find more fulfillment from experiences.
If you are working through the monthly goals with us, then keeping a food journal is a great way to figure out what and when you are eating, but not necessarily why. So how do you know if you are mindlessly eating???
Here are 5 Ways to Identify Mindless Eating:
1. Is there one specific food that will satisfy you right now and nothing else? Cravings are hard to identify at times. One way I combat this is to keep cottage cheese around…it is not a food that I love, but I will eat it when really hungry. When I am trying to figure out if I am truly hungry or just having a craving, I think, “Lauren, will you eat that cottage cheese?”. If the answer is no, then I’m not really hungry and need to find an activity to get my mind off the craving. Find your “cottage cheese”.
2. Are you eating because someone right next to you is eating? This is difficult to control, especially when you live with someone who does not watch what they put in their body. Just the act of watching someone else eat can stimulate you to eat or at least want to eat! If your honey grabs a bag of chips and sits down next to you, grab something to keep your hands busy or go for a walk. Knitting is a good activity to keep your hands busy and out of the bag of chips!
3. Is it snack o’clock? When I was growing up, 3:30pm was called snack-thirty. No matter what was going on, we all stopped to have a snack at that time. That sort of conditioning can make you stop paying attention to what your body is saying. Instead of having a snack at that time today, drink a full bottle of water instead. You might be surprised at what water can do between meals to help control habitual snacking.
4. What kind of emotions are you feeling right now? Are you stressed, sad, angry? Emotional eating is not a new concept. But knowing that it exists does not make it easier to avoid. The reason most of us turn toward food in emotional or stressful times is that food gives us a physical release from what we are feeling. So what is your trigger and what could you better cope with that emotion? Make a list and keep it near by…that way when your boss moves up a deadline or you had fight with a loved one- you have a plan.
5. Are you wandering aimlessly to your kitchen? The laundry is put away, the bills are paid, and the floors are clean. What next??? When there is nothing keeping us busy, we have a tendency to just go to the kitchen and open the refrigerator or look in the pantry. This is not hunger, it’s boredom! So, turn on that workout dvd, take a walk outside, or work in your yard…something to keep you out of that kitchen!
Identifying mindless eating is only part of the battle. But once identified, you can make a plan. And remember, everyone has struggles, but it is learning from each hiccup that will help you in the long run. ~Lauren