7 Ways to Tackle Mindless Eating

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You reach for a couple of crackers, and 15 minutes later, you’re left with nothing but crumbs and a guilty conscious. Mindless eating is one reason many women struggle with weight loss. The good news is that you can take control of your eating habits, and you can start today with these seven ways to tackle mindless eating.

A hectic schedule is a primary trigger for falling into the mindless eating trap. We’re busy, and that often translates into missing a meal.  When you’re wrapped up in preparing for work or hustling the family out the door, you may not realize that you missed breakfast until your stomach starts protesting at 10 a.m. As a result, you inhale whatever food happens to be on hand.

Stress also drives us to mindless eating. You reach into that cookie box, telling yourself you’ll have just one. But it tastes so good, and you’ve had a rough day, so you eat a couple more…and then a few more. That’s why it’s critical to learn ways to avoid mindless eating.

1. Stop. Think. Ask: Am I hungry?
Emotional eating is an easy way to take in excess calories, sugar, sodium, and fat. When you find yourself in front of the pantry or fridge, ready to mindlessly grab food, ask whether you’re physically hungry. If not, identify what you’re feeling and find a healthier way to deal with that emotion. For example, if you’re stressed, work it out with exercise. Try Stretch It Out- Total Body Exercises for Flexibility or 4-Minute Fat Blaster for All Fitness Levels.

Muesli with dried fruits.
Muesli with dried fruits.

2. Eat breakfast.
A stomach that’s been empty all night is a stomach that can transform into a raving, mindless eating machine. Eat a healthy breakfast every day—no matter how busy you are. Discover tasty recipes in 5 Healthy Breakfasts to Grab-n-Go or 5-Day Clean Eating Breakfast Menu.

MORE: 6 Foods to Help You Lose Weight and Stay Full Longer

3. Snack regularly.
The body needs food every 3-4 hours, so long stretches between meals can turn the stomach and mind into food-hunting monsters. Check out these clean eating Snack Ideas.

4. Avoid the bag trap.
Ever snack directly from the box or bag, and then find yourself shocked at how much of it you ate? One of the top ways to avoid mindless eating is to portion out foods into a single-serve bowl or snack baggie. When the portion is gone, snack time is over.

MORE: 10 Clean Eating Snacks Under 150 Calories

5. Keep food out of sight.
A box of crackers sits on the counter, and you grab two or three each time you walk by…before you realize it, the box is half gone by day’s end. Always store snack foods in a cabinet, pantry, or in drawers. Out of sight, out of tummy!

6. Slow down during meals.
Mindless eating isn’t just a snacking problem. It’s common to sit down at mealtimes and shovel food into the mouth, taking in too many calories in the process. Chew each bite fully before taking in another, and set utensils down between bites. This slows down eating, giving your stomach more time to send “I’m full” signals to the brain.

7. Maintain a food journal.
Keep tabs on what you’re consuming by using a food journal. It will help you pinpoint how much mindless eating you’re doing, which will increase your awareness. The result? Better self-control and a trimmer waistline. Learn the Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal.

Learning ways to avoid mindless eating isn’t hard. Begin using these tips today to take control of your life.

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