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More on Mindful Eating

On Saturday, I posted “Stop Emotional Eating.” We were snowed-in here in the Mid-Atlantic area. What that meant is being around food, food, and more food.

According to one of my readers,

Nothing to do and no food?..no way

Your comments along with a video that I stumbled upon inspired me to write about mindless eating, again!

Your will-power is not as strong as you think

In the first post, I gave examples of things you can say to yourself to prevent emotional eating. Someone responded,

I kept repeating the between the quotes to take my mind off food, but failed miserably

“What is wrong with me?” You might think. “Why did I fail so miserably?”

Nothing, my dear. We put so much faith in our will-power when we shouldn’t. We make hundreds of food-related decisions each day. If you can say no to candy 10 or 15 times, by the 16th time, you have no energy left. Instead of “I’m not hungry, I don’t need it” attitude, you’ll be in “oh well, can’t do it anymore” attitude.

What to do? Self-empowering positive talk helps stop emotional eating, but in a bad environment it won’t succeed. Change your surroundings. For example, when we visit relatives, I love the look of their homemade baked goods sitting on the kitchen counter. But I dare not do it at my home. It takes too much mental effort to eat just one or two pieces.

You’re probably thirsty, not hungry

Someone else pointed out that many times, you just need a drink; not sugar, fat, or calories. I agree. When you feel a temptation to eat, chug down a glass of water first.

If you’re simply thirsty, water has done its job–to hydrate you. If you still want food, then water helped fill you up a little. You’re likely to munch on less.

How easy would it be to get 8 cups of water a day if you drink every time you step in the kitchen for a bite? Very.

You eat with your eyes, not your stomach

According to Brian Wansink, a leader in nutrition research on mindless eating and author of the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think people eat with their eyes. The two things that determine why people eat are convenience and visibility, he says. Watch the video.

Reduce the convenience of eating non-nutritious stuff. Other than putting the candy jar far from your arms reach, what can you do at your home or work? Can you place unhealthy foods out of reach inside your pantry or fridge? How about a bowl of fruit on your counter top or washed and pre-cut vegetables in your fridge?

Use visibility to your advantage. Scoop out the food you’re planning on eating and see how much it is instead of munching from the bag. Leave evidence of your crime, like candy wraps, to track how much you’ve eaten.

What are your ideas? Share with us…

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Crystal's Cozy Kitchen February 9, 2010, 11:34 pm

    I first got pregnant when I had a candy bowl on my desk, and before I found out I was pregnant I would snack on the candy to curb my hunger attacks. I only realized this when I found out I was pregnant… and stopped eating candy (which also involved moving the candy dish!)
    I have recently started a self inflicted reduced sugar diet. To do so, I measure out my weekly allotment of sugar snacks (which is one serving of chocolate – for my hubby it is 3 servings.) Then when I get a craving I open my container and eat as much as I want, but I do not eat as much as I would have because I want it to last the whole week! I sometimes sneak in other snacks, but overall I am doing a lot better than I have been and each week the temptation to sneak in other treats decreases.
    I do find that desserts are still a downfall – if I make a pan of brownies I am much more likely to eat a lot because I feel that if I don’t I won’t get ‘my fair share’ as everyone else will have it eaten in the next 24 hours. That is still something I need to overcome. I am trying to cut back to only 2 half sized servings of dessert per week, and it is coming slowly but I still have setbacks.

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 10, 2010, 10:38 am

      Thanks Crystal for sharing. It’s a great idea to portion your weekly share of dessert–it forces you to slow down.

      How often do you make brownies? If not frequently, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you make it more often, why not get your share but hide it somewhere so the rest of your family won’t get to it? šŸ™‚ my mom used to keep few candy bars in her secret location, then she’d forget about them and end up not eating them. Out of sight, out of mind. Be careful though with brownies, don’t want them to mold.

  • Ghada Abdelmoumin February 10, 2010, 3:39 pm

    Dear Nour,

    I enjoyed reading your article. I particularly like the leave the scene of the crime visible part :). I was thinking to cook my food plain and without the final touches that make your stomach rumble. As you put it elegently; the problem is with the eyes not the stomach. I truly find your posts very helpful, enjoyable, and enlightening. I am looking forward for more Nour’s nutrition.

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 10, 2010, 4:51 pm

      Thanks for the sweet comments! I think what he really meant by eating with your eyes is to let your eyes help you see how much food you ate. There’s nothing wrong with food looking good, especially fruits and vegetables–if they look good you’ll eat them.

      For example, leaving the wings’ bones on the table, candy wraps, nut shells, etc so you can count and tell yourself “I’ve ate enough.” Another trick is to use small plates and cups. If the plate is small but FULL, your eyes will think you’re eating more than enough šŸ™‚

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