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Is Mindless Eating Getting in Your Way?

By Kate Gardner

The other day, I sat down at my computer to get some work done. It had been a while since lunch and I was a little hungry so I propped a bag of tortilla chips up next to me and got to work. Two hours later I had not only finished my work I had also put a pretty good dent in the bag of tortilla chips. What was meant to be a little snack to get me through to dinner had turned into a bout of mindless eating. 

Mindless Eating

This scenario may sound familiar to you. As the name suggests, mindless eating occurs when we eat without thinking. This can be because either we're distracted or we're using non-satiety cues to tell us when to stop (like eating until our plate is empty as opposed to stopping when we are full). WebMD says that according to research, we each make about 200 food choices a day, though we are only aware of a small percentage of those decisions. The rest we make without even realizing it. In my case, I was aware of the decision to eat tortilla chips but less aware of each subsequent decision that caused me to continue eating.  

Meals and Snacks 

Mindless eating happens all the time. There is a potential to eat without thinking any time we put food in our mouths. Research suggests that at mealtimes, we like to eat most of what's on our plate, whether or not we're still hungry. When we do this, we potentially add a number of extra calories to our day. Snack times can sneak in extra calories as well. Oftentimes, we'll snack while working or watching television. This inattention to what we're snacking on often leads us to eat more than we intended. 

Thinking About What We Eat

The solution to mindless eating is to slow down and think bout food as we eat it. suggests several ways to do just that. 

Meals - First, don't rush! Taking 20 minutes (or longer) to eat a meal gives your stomach enough time to send the message to your brain that you're full. Second, just eat. Don't use lunch or dinner as a chance to multi-task. Lastly, there are a few tricks you can use to make your brain eat less. Using smaller plates has been shown to decrease how much people eat at meals. If you drink something other than water with your meals, using tall, thin glasses can help reduce how much you drink, too. 

Snacks - Don't eat from the bag! When we snack directly from a big bag, we are likely to eat more. Either give yourself a serving in a bowl or eat from packages that only hold a single serving. It can also be a good idea to keep snacks out of sight because we are more likely to snack when foods are visible to us. As well, it can help if you make snacking inconvenient. When I sit down to work in the kitchen, I know I will snack. If I take my laptop upstairs and work in a bedroom, I may not snack at all because getting the food has become more inconvenient! 

Whether you find yourself frequently eating without thought, or you're simply interested in establishing better eating habits, these tips can help set you on the right path. Food is an amazing and necessary part of life, and we enjoy it the most when we are mindful!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Richland Hills, Tex. 

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