What is Mindless Overeating and How Do We Stop It?
Ever had a conversation with someone and didn’t remember a word they said? Or driven five miles past your house and were surprised that you’d driven that far without seeing any of the exit signs? What about eating while doing something else and were totally unaware that you had devoured so much? You know those times when you think – “where did the food go?” It was as if the food had vanished mysteriously.
These examples have one thing in common. We did them mindlessly. Seems like a harsh word. But, it just means being preoccupied with other thoughts, being distracted, and not paying attention to what we were doing.
Mindless overeating is a huge stumbling block to sticking to our weight loss resolutions because it’s habitual. We do it over and over. Food is the last thing on our mind and by the time we do take notice, the overeating has taken its toll in added weight and loss of confidence in our ability to achieve our goals.
Mindless overeating is not the same as emotional overeating. It doesn’t carry the same unconsciously motivated charge. Although not exactly the same, it can be compared to some types of triggered overeating (such as the sight or smell of food, or a trip to the movies). Of the three – emotional overeating, triggered overeating and mindless overeating, the latter is the easiest to overcome.
Tips to stop mindless overeating:
- Be mindful. Give your full attention to what you are eating. Savor the taste, smell, and texture. You’ll eat less, enjoy it more.
- Keep track of what you eat and then assess the damage. At the end of the day, count the calories you ate while engaged in other activities. Did you enjoy the food? Did you even realize you ate that much?
- Eat slower. You’ve heard this before, but if you train yourself to eat slower, by the time you catch yourself mindlessly eating, you will have eaten fewer calories.
- Don’t multitask or engage in other activities when you eat. When you are distracted with other activities – such as watching TV, talking on the phone, studying, you will wind up eating more and enjoying it less.
- Write down all the activities, situations or places when you eat mindlessly. Let’s call them ‘mindless overeating zones’. Wherever possible keep the ‘zone’ food free –out-of-sight, out- of- mind. Don’t enter a ‘zone’ hungry. Eat either before or after, but not during.
- Most importantly – Stop, think, and then choose before you eat. Mindless overeating adds hundreds of excess calories – most of which you don’t really enjoy. Before you take a bite, stop, think and ask yourself if you are really hungry. If you aren’t really hungry, don’t eat. If you are hungry, move away from the zone. Eat before going back.
Simply put, just stop. If you catch yourself in the middle of mindless overeating, just stop. Don’t think that it’s too late. Stopping even in midstream will save you hundreds of calories, and will give you a renewed sense of control and self-confidence.