Mindless Eating by Amy Dungan

I sat down today at my dining table to make a list of the reviews I have yet to finish. I’ve still got a lot to share, so it’s quite a list. Sitting there I realized a couple of things.

  1. I really need a new dining table. I really like the look and price of many of the dining tables I’ve found on the internet, so that may be where I start my shopping for said item. When the time is right of course… like when I win the lottery.
  2. I don’t sit a the dining room table near enough. While there is little I can do about point number one at this time, point number two is easily remedied. I’m guilty, as I’m sure many of my dear readers are, of eating on the go. I grab something walking out the door. I’ll sit at my computer and work while I eat. Even in the evenings my family is guilty of sitting on the sofa with dinner while we play games or watch our favorite DVD.

This, my friends, is called mindless eating. While it’s sadly the norm in our society, it’s certainly not healthy. When we are preoccupied with anything other than the food on our plates, we create an environment for overeating and bad choices. For many of us, these unconscious eating habits not only happen during meals, but occur throughout the day. Snacking when we aren’t really hungry can add up to higher grocery bills, extra pounds and inches, and an unwanted shopping spree for larger clothing. Even worse is the damage it can do to your health. Below are a few steps to help you combat this undesirable habit.

Avoid distractions during mealtimes. Sit at the table, when possible, and focus on your meal. Eat slowly, even going as far as putting down your fork between bites, and savor each morsel. It takes the stomach about 20 minutes to tell the brain it’s full. Eating slowly, without distractions, will not only help you not less, but also help you stay within your carb/calorie allotment for the day.

Distract yourself from thinking about food. I realize this is the opposite of the above advice, but so is the situation. Many times you may find yourself rummaging through the fridge looking for a snack when you aren’t even hungry. Periods of high emotions and stress seem especially likely to trigger these unnecessary cravings. These are the ideal times to occupy your thoughts with something other than food. Some possible alternatives to eating:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Read a favorite book.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Engage in a favorite sport.
  • Call an old friend. There’s no time like the present to catch up with someone you haven’t seen or talked to in a while.
  • Exercise. Getting yourself moving is not only distracting, but it feels good and is good for you!
  • Start a hobby.
  • Write in a journal. Sometimes writing out how you feel during a craving, or non_hunger related urge, to eat can help you sort out the triggers that cause these issues. Knowing these issues will help you better prepare yourself in the future.

Once you get involved in something you enjoy, you’ll likely find you weren’t hungry after all. If hunger still plagues you once you’ve tried a distraction technique, it may be that you only need a small snack to hold you over until dinner. Indulging in something satisfying and full of quality f at and/or protein, like cheese or macadamia nuts, may well help you carry on until the next meal. A large glass of water also helps to keep hunger at bay. Again you should focus solely on eating so you only consume what you really need to be satisfied.

© 2011 by Amy Dungan. Article and photograph used by kind permission of the author. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.

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