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.
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.
A beautiful display of fruit encourages us to make healthy choices!
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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This super food is low in calories, high in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. It comes individually packaged and can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s Doctor approved and recommended.
This super food is included at most dinners. Parents encourage their kids to eat it and dessert might even be used as a bribe. We often hear the child say…..
But why do I have to eat my vegetables? (in a whiny, sad child voice.)
photo credit Greg Westfall
Most of us need to be reminded, just like kids!
Eating more vegetables is one of the simplest changes we can make to improve our overall health.
Eating more vegetables can lower our risk of developing arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.
Vegetables fill our stomachs with nutrient rich, low calorie fuel! We also feel fuller for longer because of the high fiber content.
When we replace higher calorie foods with vegetables we are taking another little step to being healthy.
But sadly we still don’t eat them often enough. A recent report from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 87 percent of adults didn’t meet the suggested vegetable recommendation. Kids are still struggling, as 93 percent didn’t meet the recommended amount.
But how much do I have to eat?
Most women between the ages of 19 – 50 require 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day.
Wow, that sounds like a lot but not when you start measuring it out and looking at it. Especially if we substitute vegetables for other high calorie, low nutrient foods.
1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables counts toward your daily total.
1 cup of raw leafy greens counts as a ½ cup toward your daily total.
1 cup of 100 % vegetable juice also counts toward your daily total.
How can I include more vegetables in my day?
Mix them into your meals and space them out. If you eat the standard 3 meals and a snack then plan on 1 cup at lunch and dinner and ½ for a snack. If you eat mini meals through out your day then include ½ cup at each one.
Find a vegetable you really like and enjoy it. I love the color, crunch and taste of raw yellow, red and orange peppers. It’s easy for me to add them to my lunch. Maybe you like baby carrots. Buy a big bag and take them to work with you.
Substitute raw veggies for crackers or chips. Serve them with hummus or low fat dip.
Buy prewashed greens and have a salad at dinner each night. Toss in peppers, cucumber, carrots, and green onions. Watch the salad dressing as it can add many calories and fat grams.
Wash, cut and prepare fresh vegetables on the weekend. Once the work is done it’s easy to add them to a fresh salad or bag some to take to work. Think about putting them on the top shelf of the fridge. Things in the drawers often get forgotten.
Sneak some grated vegetables into sauces and casseroles. No one will know.
Drink your veggies. Add spinach or kale to a fruit smoothie. Or try some low sodium vegetable juice.
Don’t forget frozen vegetables. They are picked at their peak and have the same nutrients as fresh and are often cheaper than fresh. Steam them quickly in the microwave for another delicious serving of vegetables or add them to soups or casseroles.
TODAY’S little STEP: As part of Camp #3 add one serving of vegetables to one meal or snack. Pick one of these ideas or check out the links for more ideas.
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These are some of the sites I used for my research. Check them out they all have good information.