Recognizing and Overcoming Mindless Eating

Recognizing and Overcoming Mindless Eating
by Jennifer Elliot | July 19, 2012

Just had dinner followed by a filling dessert and now planted in front of the TV watching your favorite movie. As you do so, you extend your hand forward for that big bag of oily chips and a can of soda. Sounds familiar? How about just relaxing and reading a book with a hot steaming cup of coffee, and reaching out for a cream cheese bagel right after breakfast? Sounds familiar too? Well, if these do sound familiar then you are one of the millions who fall as prey to the ruthless mindless eating! 

What is Mindless Eating?

The phrase ‘mindless eating’ coined by Brian Wansink, the Cornell University Food Psychologist, is quite an appropriate one. It essentially describes the subconscious eating habits leading to perpetual weight gain that, let’s face it, a lot of us fall victims to!

Research based statistics show for mindless eating to account for 66% of Americans are engaged in and struggle with obesity. Wansick suggests that we fall into the mindless eating trap when we lose consciousness of how many calories we are consuming just because we are so engrossed in our social situations, emotional callings and attractive packaging of various food products, allowing ourselves to lose control. 

Recognizing Mindless Eating

Recognizing mindless eating while you are at it is quite impossible. Just because you are not in a state of transparent clear conscious, and are taken over by the ambiguities of the subconscious mind, you will almost never realize you are falling prey to mindless eating. However, in order to keep yourself from falling victim to the trap laid down by mindless eating, you must recognize it first. If you open a bag of chips and it turns out to be soggy stale, and you eat it anyway, you are eating mindlessly. If you finish an entire bag of pretzels through a movie or a TV show without realizing it, you are mindlessly eating.

These are just a few examples. Mindless eating can take up many other forms. Just know, if you are eating unnecessarily, more frequently than required and doing so without realizing it until you are done, you are a mindless eater!

Overcoming Mindless Eating

Mindless eating may sound like a death trap, and it is to quite an extent considering it is the leading cause of obesity in the U.S. However, the good news is, mindless eating can very well be turned into mindful eating.

Smaller Plates

Research shows that when we eat off large plates, we tend to take bigger servings then when we eat off a small plate. So, first line of business:  Get rid of all the large plates and bowls from your kitchen shelves, and replace them with smaller ones

Junk-Proof Your Fridge

Next, the beauty of mindless eating is that when you open your refrigerator you don’t really pick and choose what you want to eat. In most cases you just pick out whatever is at eye level, grab a hold of it and go back to mindlessly eating. Here is the beauty part of this equation: You can keep healthier food choices in your refrigerator shelves at eye level, like carrot sticks, or low fat crackers, and all the candy and unhealthy choices obscured from sight. This way when you open the fridge and jump forward with mindlessly eating, you will actually be eating mindfully!

Limit TV Time

The main culprit of mindlessly eating is the TV, agreed? How many times have you lost track of the number of bowls of chips or popcorn you have eaten and the cans of soda you have drank planted in front of the TV, deeply engrossed in whatever you are watching? Countless would be the answer! Here is what you need to do. Make sure you eat on your kitchen table instead of the TV lounge and you will better be able to control your hand from reaching out to food unnecessarily!

Gain Awareness

Another way to overcome mindless eating is by educating yourself on the calorie amounts of the food you consumes and the portions you end up consuming. If you start building awareness of these two factors, you will be more consciously inclined to refrain from eating mindlessly as you will know what is at stake, and you will be able to recognize when to stop!

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About the Author - Jennifer Elliot

Jennifer Elliot takes her Nutrition (and yours) very seriously! She believes that the strongest weapon we have against all diseases, ailments and conditions is Nutrition. She also widely promotes the importance of exercise to maintain optimal health. Keep an eye out for Jennifer’s articles to remain updated on how to lead a nutritious life!

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