Thursday, September 23, 2010

On mindless eating.

Whenever I catch a new flick at the theater, I absolutely always get a craving for Twizzlers. And really, this craving has been coming and going since "An American Tail" made its debut in 1986. (I was six.) Sometimes I give in, but usually I just fight my craving with everything I've got. You see, if I buy that (overpriced) bag of Twizzlers (or sneak in a cheaper one)—it's over. One serving size is equal to three pieces, and I will absolutely eat more than that. They are just that good, and I'd be just not paying attention to my hand-to-mouth frequency. In other words, one single bag of Twizzlers would prompt me to eat mindlessly. To overindulge, in fact. And that would, it goes without saying, set me up for some potential weight gain.

So, how do I fight my craving...that which causes mindless eating? I offer the following words of advice:

1) Don't eat in front of the big screen. Or the little screen. In fact, just eliminate all distractions. (Your
    computer, a book...whatever, really.)
2) If you absolutely must eat in front of the screen, make it a snack. Put an appropriate serving on a
    small plate and forget about seconds.
3) Forget about seconds when you're at the table, too. Serve yourself appropriately and make it last.
4) Take small bites and chew everything completely. It will take you longer to eat, which means you
    might actually hear your body communicate fullness before it's too late.
5) Stay focused on your food. Pay attention to the various tastes and smells in front of you. Actually
    enjoy your meal or snack for what it is.
6) If you feel as though you need to eat—ask yourself why. Is it time for a meal? Are you truly
    hungry? Better yet—are you bored? Mindless eating is often the result of boredom, so distract
    yourself when the urge to eat something hits.
7) Stay out of the kitchen at parties. We so often gather there because that's where all the food is
    displayed. If you must, make a small plate of the healthiest options and consume your choices
    slowly. That way, you won't eat mindlessly as you gab about this, that and the other thing.

Remember, mindless eating is a diet trap. The tips above will help you avoid it, but since we aren't perfect, I make my 8th and final tip about the moment after you realize that you might have just eaten mindlessly.

8) Move on. It happens, but it isn't the end of the world. The moment you realize that you've
    overindulged is the moment you should hit your healthy switch again. Erase what you've done by
    returning to your smartest ways of eating. And maybe hit the gym when you can. That never hurts.

Question: Are you prone to mindless eating? When and where?

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