Many health and weight loss problems stem from mindless eating or snacking. Being mentally present and engaged while making food decisions and eating is important to avoid making unhealthy food choices, rushing through meals or overeating.
Here are five simple ways to avoid mindless eating and lay off the extra calories
1. Listen to your body’s signals
Listening to the body’s hunger signals and only eating at those times is one way to becoming more mindful of your eating patterns. When you’re in the middle of a meal, pay attention to when you’re feeling full. It’s easy to overeat when dining with others, eating out or eating at someone else’s home because everyone else is eating too, or because you want 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.
2. Eat only when you are hungry
Eating only when your body tells you that you are hungry is important to avoid 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.
3. Replace emotional eating with another 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 a journal, listen to your favorite music or meditate. Exercise is also a great activity to replace emotional eating as it enhances the mood and burns up extra calories.
4. Avoid set meal time
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.
5. Enjoy your food
A modern, fast-paced life makes it easy for people 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.