Have you ever sat down in front of the television to watch a movie with a big bowl of popcorn and suddenly you realise you have devoured nearly the entire bowl before you are even 10 minutes into the flick? Yes? Well, would be considered mindless eating. Many individuals often carry out this behaviour without realising it. Even if you outsmart your hunger hormones or de-stress or understand nutrition, mindless eating can still occur and sabotage your good intentions.
Mindless eating can be classified as any reason other than the hunger to eat. It can be sight, smell, stress, taste, texture, boredom, anxiety or no reason at all. Here are some tips that will help you to conquer this habit:
- Keep a note to yourself: When you open your cupboard or fridge and reach out for that piece of cake or pastry, remember this line: “When I eat badly, I feel like badly”. Every time you are tempted to finish the entire packet of biscuits or chips, this self-reminder will help you curb your habit.
- Think about the food while you are eating: If you completely focus on the food while you are eating it- the taste, texture, aroma, feel- you will enjoy the food more and become more conscious of the quantity of food which you are consuming. Hence, you will obtain greater satisfaction from your food and you are less likely to overeat or indulge in mindless eating.
- Read labels to get to grips with the portion size: It is important to read the labels to understand what is a suitable portion size. By doing this over and over again and making it a habit, you will be able to identity reasonable portion sizes naturally.
Be aware of the calories you are eating: You don’t need to go crazy and count your calories every time you eat, however make sure you hold yourself accountable for what passes your lips- be aware of what you are eating.
Avoid hidden calories by looking at the labels: When you grab your ice cream or other choice of treat food, these are likely to be highly calorific, so remember to read the labels carefully and choose a realistic portion size.
Use a smaller plate: Ideally using 9 ½ – 10 ½ inch or 24-25 cm plate will help prevent over consumption of food and excess calories. Your plate will appear fully loaded and signal to your brain that you have had a large substantial meal.
Load your plate with vegetables: This will keep you full up without adding any extra calories.
Out of sight, out of mind: Loading your fridge and cupboards with unhealthy food is a big “no-no.” You are likely to binge on these when you are feeling low, stressed or anxious. It is better not to have them within your reach.
Plan ahead to avoid danger situations that you know trigger mindless eating: Maintaining a diary or a journal will help you plan ahead and avoid situations which you know will trigger mindless eating. For example, if you are going to a party which will offer a large food buffet, plan ahead. Eat a small protein-rich snack before the party which will keep your food cravings at bay and make you less likely to overeat. Helpful snack ideas: Handful of almonds; 1 tablespoon peanut butter; 2 rice cakes; 1 boiled egg with half cup cottage cheese; small bowl of muesli; sliced seasoned chicken breast.
Stock your cupboard with loads of healthy food: You can stock your cupboard with foods like chickpeas, hummus, eggs, tomatoes, beans, frozen vegetables and wholemeal pasta. When you are tired and ravenous and you don’t have much time, these cupboard essentials will help you take a quick bite in just 10 to 15 minutes. You can also freeze meals for convenience.
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