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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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By: Rebecca Cline

Do you ever find yourself munching on a snack in front of the television and then next thing you know, you have eaten the entire bag?  Were you even aware that you were consuming so much?  What are some ways to prevent this from happening again?  Is your “mind FULL” or are you being “mindful” and in the present?  Practicing mindful eating tips is a great way to take charge of your health and maintain a healthy eating regimen.  This will also eliminate those mindless eating habits that may cause overconsumption.

What is Mindless Eating?

Mindless eating can occur simply any time that the brain is distracted and the person is not aware of what or how much food he or she is consuming.  There are five factors that contribute to mindless eating:

  1. Disinhibition. This is simply just eating when you’re not hungry.  Perhaps a sense of boredom has set in and eating food is going to give you something to do.
  2. Distracted eating.  Mindless eating easily occurs when the mind is sidetracked by television, conversations, and other distractions.
  3. Lack of awareness.  It is easy to not even realize how much food you’re consuming, especially when eating directly out of the bag or not measuring portion sizes.
  4. Emotional eating.  Emotions can play a large role with mindless eating.  Some individuals may turn to food as a sense of comfort when sad or may potentially eat when bored.  Pay attention to your emotions, and try not to feed them.
  5. External reasons.  An outside source, such as food advertisements or television commercials, may contribute to mindless eating.  Have you ever seen a billboard of a juicy burger and then began to crave it?

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindfulness means to increase one’s awareness of his or her own physical, cognitive, and emotional state, as well as the environment and events he or she is experiencing in the present moment.  To be mindful, one pays attention to the occurring in-present moment without any judgment.  When being the mindful eater, the individual is fully aware of the type of food he or she is eating, how much of it, and really savors the flavor.

Tips to Mindful Eating

So what can you do to be a mindful eater?  Here are eight tips to practice:

  1. Slow down.  Nutrition professionals say that it can take up to twenty minutes before your body realizes that it is feeling full, so try to slow down and truly enjoy your food.
  2. Think about where the food comes from.  Consider how some vegetables have grown from the ground or perhaps have been picked from a vine.
  3. Create a healthy eating environment.  This means eliminating distractions and avoiding roaming the cabinets.  Try to remove unhealthy foods from sitting out on the countertop to tempt you.
  4. Consider your feelings when eating.  Like previously mentioned, some individuals tend to “feed their feelings” for comfort.  It is easy to fall into a mindless eating trend, but ask yourself, “Am I eating because I am hungry or am I eating because I am sad/excited/nervous?”
  5. Eliminate distractions.  Turn off the television and place the mobile device in another room.  Research shows that distracted eating leads to overeating.
  6. Use a food diary.  Writing down everything that you are eating and drinking ignites awareness of what and how much food you are consuming.  Food diaries can be recorded by smartphone apps, a pen and paper, or simply creating an audible recording version to help you track your food.  Choose which accommodates your needs best.
  7. Measure your food.  This is an easy tip that will allow you to maintain correct portion sizes and avoid overeating.
  8. Pay attention to your hunger cues.  Use the hunger scale to determine if you are actually hungry or still satisfied from your previous meal.

 

Published: 7/6/2018


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