Ever eaten a whole bag of potato chips while watching T.V.? Ever eaten your lunch while checking Facebook and suddenly realized your food was gone? Ever walked by some dessert and grabbed one on the way by? Why do we eat mindlessly? What can we do to stop it?
Mindless eating is NOT GOOD! We are not aware of the calories we consume. We aren’t paying attention to our hunger or fullness cues. Mindless eating sabotages our healthy eating plan. Plus we miss out on the variety of textures, the taste and the joy of good food!
Why do we do it?
Brian Wansink, PhD. who directs the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab has some powerful scientific data on mindless eating. Our minds and eyes are easily fooled. We can relate to most of these reasons.
“Sights, Sounds, and Smells
Overeating can be triggered just by the alluring smell of bacon frying, or the sound of popcorn popping, or just walking past the bakery window.
Eating amnesia is the act of almost unconsciously putting food in your mouth without paying attention to what you’re eating. We are often paying attention to something else.
Food, Food Everywhere
When food is in front of you, you’ll tend to eat more of it. Dr. Wansink found that when candy was easily accessible on employees’ desks, they ate an average of nine pieces a day, but when they had to get up from their desks to reach the candy six feet away, they ate only four pieces.
Food that’s Fast, Convenient, and Inexpensive
Fast-food combo meal deals sound like a bargain especially if you choose to ‘super-size’ them, but they are loaded with fat, sodium, and calories.
Our idea of a normal portion has become skewed, in part because so many restaurants serve oversized portions. The plates are the size of the platters we use at home.
The mega-sized packages like jumbo flats of muffins or cookies encourage us to eat more because there is more food available. When you eat from a large container, you are likely to consume 25% to 50% more than you would from a smaller package.
We tend to eat more when we’re served food in larger containers. Dr. Wansink found that when students were given food in larger bowls, they served themselves 53% more and consumed 56% more than those who used smaller bowls.”
O.K. Now we know why we overeat. We need some encouragement and some strategies to become mindful eaters!
Take a minute to think before you eat. What are you feeling? Are you stressed, rushed, bored or sad? Are you really hungry?
When you eat, just sit and eat. Sit down and face way from any distractions. Turn off your phone, computer or the T.V. and think about eating. Savor the tastes and texture of the food.
Never eat directly from a bag or box of food. You have no idea how much you ate.
When you have a snack put it on a plate or bowl. This extra step makes snacking more inconvenient, which means you’ll do it less.
Keep the counters clear of all food but the healthy ones. A pretty fruit bowl on the cupboard encourages healthy snacking.
Limit your view of tempting foods. Put the cookies in the cupboard. Or better yet put them in the basement, so you will have to make a conscious decision to go and get them.
Fill your plate at the stove or counter. You will need to make a conscious decision to get up and get more food.
Change the fridge organization. Place fruit and vegetables on the top shelf in a separate basket, where they are easily accessed.
Here are the websites which I used for my research if you would like to read more.
TODAY’S little STEP: Become a mindful eater. Pick at least 1 strategy to incorporate into your everyday life. Remember every little step makes a difference!
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