How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Mindless Eating

woman eating in front of the television

Ever wonder how you ate most of that large bag of popcorn at the movie theatre, even though you’d just finished dinner? It’s likely you were eating without thinking about it. Read on to learn how to avoid mindless eating.

Decide why you are eating

Stop and think about why you want to eat.  Are you really hungry?

  • Ask yourself if emotions may be driving you to eat – for example, are you bored or stressed? Consider what else you can do to satisfy those emotions. Going for a walk may be exactly what you need.
  • Try brushing your teeth when you are done eating your meal. This may help you stop snacking after a meal.
  • Be aware if you are eating because you are hungry or whether you are eating out of habit, such as after dinner. If you find you need to eat at night, try to stick with one preferably healthy snack.

Don’t get distracted

  • Make a habit of just concentrating on eating instead of doing many different things at once.
  • Take your time and eat slowly – it takes as much as 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you are full.
  • Put your fork or spoon down between each mouthful and take the time to really taste your food.
  • Share a dessert with others rather than a portion all by yourself.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer.
  • Avoid skipping meals – if you eat healthy meals throughout the day, you may feel more satisfied and may not have the urge to snack mindlessly.

Keep nutritious food closer than junk food

The closer a food is, the more likely you are to reach for it. Be aware of the foods you choose to bring into your home or workplace.

  • Buy healthy convenience foods like pre-washed salad mix, frozen veggies or frozen fruit.
  • Be selective about the food you eat. Choose nutrient-rich versus empty-calorie foods. People often eat food just because it’s there.
  • Keep nutritious snacks close at hand, such as fresh fruit in a bowl on the kitchen counter or on your desk.
  • Instead of reaching for sugary drinks, place a pitcher of cold water where you can easily refill your glass or carry a water bottle with you.
  • Cut up fresh veggies and keep them in water in the fridge so they’re ready when the munchies hit.
  • Limit the amount of “junk food” you have in your house and at work.

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