I have always been a snacker. In fact, it was probably the thing that added more weight to me than meals did. You see, I would fall into the trap of mindless eating. When I am working in my office, I don’t like food near my computer. Also because I am engaged in using my hands and my brain, I usually don’t even think about food. However, if I am just relaxing in front of the TV, I start grazing.
Do you do what I do? I go to the fridge to look for something interesting, then 10 minutes later, I go look again like the food fairy dropped off an order of goodies in the last 10 minutes. I will say to my wife “There’s nothing to eat” and her general response is “No, there’s nothing you WANT to eat.” I hate it when she’s right.
Mindless eating can be deadly! Some nights I used to look back at how much I had munched on and it was staggering and what was really bad is that I would sometimes start grazing less than an hour after dinner.
You know what it’s like. You start munching on different things, but then say to yourself “That wasn’t it” and go in search of something else. So what do you do to combat mindless eating?
Here are a few things that I have found that help me.
First of all, acknowledge that you are a snacker, and figure out healthier alternatives. I never thought I would become such a fan of celery and light peanut butter or apple and cheese or that a plate of veggies would replace a bag of chips. I am more of a salty snacker as opposed to wanting sweets like chocolate, and I will make air popped popcorn or make pita chips in the oven using whole wheat pita breads.
Take a pita bread and separate it into the 2 halves. Then cut each half with a pizza cutter into wedges. I use an oil sprayer and spray a little olive oil on and then some seasonings (no salt) then bake them in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or so. Crunchy and warm and healthy as you control what goes on them.
Other healthy snack ideas? This comes from a terrific website called Spark People that has tons of articles on weight loss and healthy living. It is a real treasure house and you can spend a lot of time exploring. This article is 55 snacks under 200 calories. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1792
Try finding something else to do. If you eat because you are just sitting there, don’t just sit there. Go for a walk, go outside and do something. Do an exercise video. Just get active.
Ask yourself if you are really hungry or are you just eating out of habit. Something that I do is when I think I want a snack, I will wait 10 minutes. If I am still hungry, I will consider a snack.
Are you bored? Angry? Lonely? A lot of mindless eating is really emotional eating. We are unhappy and seek comfort in food.
Have a large glass of water. We often confuse thirst for hunger. Besides, we should all be drinking more water anyway.
If like me, you don’t eat while on the computer, go online. Play a game or chat with a friend.
The other thing to combat mindless eating is to practice mind-full eating. Be aware of what you eat. Savour it and enjoy it. I don’t eat chocolate that often, but my wife and I love to go to the Lindt Chocolate stores and buy individual chocolates. If you know Lindt, you know the ones I mean. When I want to have chocolate, I have one of those. I savour the high quality chocolate and enjoy the taste.
Be aware that you only had dinner an hour ago. When you have your meal, be mindful of not only how much you ate and how soon, but like the chocolate, savour it. I love food (I know – no kidding) and in fact in high school had thought about becoming a chef. I love to cook. I am not talking gourmet, but good, healthy food. I have learned to enjoy my meals, to literally slow down and pay attention to the food. I do the same when I eat out. No scarfing down your food!
Sometimes we are just in too much of a hurry to be mindful of our eating. These days we are all in such a hurry. People grab food on the run. Grab coffee on the run. We go to fast food places and we wolf down a meal and head out on our day. By doing this we are often unaware of how many calories we are taking in.
I still fall victim to this occasionally. I was doing some errands one day and saw Burger King had chicken nuggets on for $1.89. I thought Why not. I had the order of nuggets with a small fries and a small drink (diet of course). I went to enter this information in My Fitness Pal app and found I had just consumed 800 calories in that 10 minute food stop.
We just need to slow down and be aware. I know this sounds like the latest fad or cliche, but this is true – we need to switch from Mindless Eating to Mindful Eating. I can also recommend a great book called Mindless Eating:Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!