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6 Ways to Tame Your Mindless Eating Habits

If you’ve ever polished off anentire box of cheese crackers withoutwarning or found yourself at the bottomof a tub of healthy ice cream but cant quiteremember how you got there, youre not alone. Ihear from a lot of clients that they drink a glassof wine at night or eat a bowl of chips whilewatching TV, but they are trying to lose weightor manage their cholesterol or diabetes, saysAdrienne Ngai, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Vancouver. I ask themwhy [they made those food choices] and they sayIts just part of my routine its what I do.Theyre mindlessly eating because theyre soused to the habit.

In our culture of scrolling screens and nonstopschedules, its easy to forget to make timejust for food. Thinking through breakfast, lunchand dinner, making our meals nutritious andeating consciously taking in the smells, flavours and textures, as well as the company canoften seem like too big of a task. But as a result,were overeating, consuming too much of thewrong foods and missing out on the joys of eating.Luckily, more mindful eating doesnt have tobe difficult, and the rewards are well worth it.Heres how you can learn to eat with intention.

1. Unplug at Dinnertime

If youre prone to mindless eating, you need tostop serving your meals with a side of screentime. Studies show that we tend to consume asmuch as 25 percent more calories when weredining with a smartphone, tablet or TV screen.According to research published in the AmericanJournal of Clinical Nutrition, distracteddiners tend to not only eat more when they sitdown to Netflix and supper (compared to thosewho dont eat in front of a screen) but also eatmore later on in the day or evening.

Its nearly impossible to focus on your foodwhen youre staring at a screen, says Ngai. Stepaway from your computer, put down your phoneand retire the concept of TV dinners. Instead, sitwith a colleague to eat lunch whenever you canand align dinnertime with your family andfriends as often as possible. Eating togetherhelps you be more mindful and present as well,says Ngai. When youre alone, allow yourself tosimply zero in on whats on your plate. Youll beless prone to overeating and enjoy your food moreif you give your meals more attention, she says.

2. Beware the Health Halo

Theres a danger of going overboard on (so-called)healthy packaged foods if we stop beingmindful of whats in them and if we really needthem. We dont want to categorize food as goodor bad, says Ngai. Keto-approved bars dont needto be downed on the daily just because they fit inwith your diet and are easy to eat on the go. Dittofor bottled vegan smoothies and hemp cookies.In general, grab-and-go snacks and meals arentnecessarily the most nutritious options, and theycertainly shouldnt be eaten mindlessly simplybecause they fit in with your diet.

3. Pause Mid-Meal

Its important to be really aware of your foodwhen youre eating it. Halfway through breakfast, stop to ask yourself if youre still hungry orif youre beginning to feel full. At lunch, take amoment to pause and check in with yourself: Areyou enjoying your food, tasting the flavours andsavouring the textures in your mouth? Duringdinner, take a breather to consider if youre continuingto pick at your plate because the fishtacos are that good or because your lunch date isstill eating.

Social cues can override satiation cues, especiallyin a restaurant setting. Health psychologistscall it social facilitation, and many studieshave shown that we order more, eat more andspend longer at the table when were in goodcompany. Thats not necessarily a bad thing, aslong as were consciously embracing our communalfeast, not walking away from the tablefeeling bloated and bewildered.

4. Identify Hidden Hungers (That Aren’t for Food)

Its easy to zone out with a coffee or even whilestanding at the kitchen counter stirring theInstant Pot. Food whether youre cooking orconsuming it can become a distraction fromthe stress and seemingly unending to-do list ofthe day. But if you find yourself at the bottom of achip bag and cant account for your time or thechips you may have a problem. (Psst: See how often you should eat to lose weight.)

Its possible that its distraction itself thatyoure craving, says Ngai. If you find yourselfnoshing but admit that youre not really hungry,begin by asking yourself some key questions,like Am I bored? or Is this helping me mask anuncomfortable feeling? or Am I avoidingsomething stressful? Once you know what canlead you to a mindless-eating bender, youll bebetter able to curb the impulse next time.

5. Fire Your Nine-to-Five Snack Habit

Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention found that office workersconsume nearly 1,300 extra calories a week fromsnacks and beverages lingering around theirworkspaces. (Aside from not snacking strategically, see other ways you may be sabotaging your weight loss.) Those catered meetings, bake salesand coffee breaks can really add up without youeven noticing. But communal fridges and hallwayvending machines are only part of the problemwhen it comes to sneaky workday snacking.

We often need a coffee break as a way todecompress from an intense project or a toughcall with a client but dont actually need theaccompanying muffin. Like a lot of mindless eating, its pure habit. You may need a pick-me-up,but do you really need or even want thesnack that goes with it? says Ngai. Instead, gofor a stroll or step away from your desk for meditationor breathing exercises.

6. Slow Down

The French truly are right when it comes to theirnotoriously long lunches. Taking the time topace out a meal is enjoyable but also importantfor your bodys natural appetite cues. If we eattoo quickly, we dont know when were actuallysatisfied with our meal, says Ngai. Thatsbecause it takes about 20 minutes for fullnesssignals to reach the brain from the stomach, shesays. This makes it all too easy to snarf downmore food than you need if youre noshing in ahurry. Plus, if your body doesnt get the chance toregister that satiation cue, youre more likely toeat again sooner. In fact, research published inthe Journal of the American Dietetic Associationshows that slow eaters tend to feel fuller whenmunching on less and even rate their meals asmore satisfying.

Paying more attention to the rhythm of yourmeals by stopping to talk with your date or yourkids more often or holding a delicious morsel inyour mouth for an extra moment will help youeat more mindfully and make your meals moreenjoyable. Bon apptit!

Next. see howhealthy food portions actually look.

The post 6 Ways to Tame Your Mindless Eating Habits appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

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