Mindless Eating occurs when we don’t pay attention to what we are eating or the amount we are eating. Have you ever sat down on the couch with a bag of M&Ms and suddenly the bag is gone? Or maybe you’re at a cookout and sit in front of a bowl of chips then before you know it there are only crumbs left. If so, you’ve been a mindless eater just like so many of us 😉 In the next week I’m going to be writing a series on three ways we can stop mindless eating in its tracks. I’ve chosen each topic based on what I’ve found to be the main culprits for my clients (and myself!) when it comes to mindless eating:
- Having a Good vs. Bad Food Mentality
- Being Unable to Getting In Touch With Our Emotions
- How to know when you’re hungry and when you’re full
In each post you’ll get examples and solutions of how to overcome these road blocks and by the end, you’ll have all the tools you need to become a more mindful eater 🙂
MINDLESS EATING AND THE GOOD vs BAD DIETING MENTALITY
Think about what happens when someone says they’re going to cut out all junk food (aka “bad” foods) from their diet. A few days is no biggie, but day 4? That’s usually another story. This is when the excitement wears off and the cravings kick in. On the next trip to the grocery store, a pack of Oreos appears in their cart. Even though this person is not “supposed” have cookies because they’re “bad”, what can it really hurt to just have a few? Once they get home, sit down on the couch and turn on the tv, they grab a few cookies out of the sleeve. In no time an entire sleeve is GONE. Well shit.
This is an example of a good vs. bad dieting mentality. There’s a list of good foods (ex: lean protein, vegetables, fruit whole grains) and bad foods (ex: chips, cookies, candy, soda). Good vs bad is a no-win scenario when looking for long-term results because if we’re constantly categorizing food as one or the other, it sets us up for failure at the first taste of food from the bad list. We tend to go move overboard due to restriction and think we’ve failed. Then comes the guilt, regret and negative self-talk about having no self-control and not being able to resist temptation so we ban the food from our house all over again only to repeat the same mistake next week.
So what if instead of good vs bad we thought of all food as just being ok? What if we saw certain foods as just food instead of something to avoid or restrict? This would take all the pressure, novelty and stress away from eating (or not eating) something. The chances of overeating will go down significantly once you get this mentality straight. This is a big-time mindset shift, especially for those of us who have a habit of categorizing food, and it takes time and practice to get there.
If you struggle with the good vs. bad dieting mentality what I’m about to ask you to do is going to be super uncomfortable but that’s a good thing! What I want you to do is expose yourself to those “bad” foods regularly. GASP! I know…crazy right? Not exactly. There’s a method to the madness 😉 Expose yourself to smaller portions of the foods you tend to overeat. Go to the store and buy a smaller portion of Oreos, then go home and eat them. Do this a few times per week for a few weeks and watch what happens. With practice, you’ll look at the cookies as no big deal. You’ll be able to go without because the novelty is gone and you’ll be able to have just a couple bites when the cravings hit because you can have cookies whenever you want!
This isn’t easy at first so practice, practice, practice and let me know how it’s working for you. I want to hear your all struggles and successes!!!
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