Say Goodbye to Mindless Eating: 10 Ways to Manage Your Habits

Managing stress can be the first step to changing your unhealthy eating habits for the better

Say Goodbye to Mindless Eating: 10 Ways to Manage Your Habits

Sometimes overeating is intentional. Reaching for food when you are upset, sad, angry, or tired is a common method for coping with feelings. However, junk food does not have the power to make you feel better and after the cookie jar is empty, you will be even more emotional, this time with feelings of guilt and regret. Prevent this spiral from happening by taking charge of your emotions and eating habits. Creating new habits for yourself can help with the introduction of mindful eating and less overeating. We spoke with Barb Schmidt, international speaker and best-selling author of The Practice, and Amanda Foti, nutritionist for Selvera Wellness, about the importance of mindful eating and preventing overeating.

Assess How You Are Feeling

“Understand what emotions are triggers,” Foti said. “Before starting to change anything, be mindful of how you’re feeling when you have a desire to eat and identify the emotion behind it.”

Complete Your Meal with Another Habit

Get in the habit of drinking your water, tea, or coffee after the meal is finished,” Schmidt said. “With practice, this will signify to your body you are done eating. You can also get into a routine of brushing and flossing your teeth after each meal. Taking the time to brush your teeth whenever you finish eating can also help cut back on the temptation to snack on sweets between meals.”

Define Yourself as a Healthy and Fit Individual

“Finding value in making healthy choices will help you stick with them long term,” Foti said. “Make healthy eating and exercising a lifestyle you live, not a temporary plan you are following to meet a goal. A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t have an end point, it should just be the way you live.”

Don’t Deprive Yourself

“Taking away foods you love will only make the desire to have them stronger,” Foti said. “Find a healthy balance of enjoying foods you love with nutritious choices and exercise.”

Emphasize the Foods You Can Eat

“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on giving your body enough healthy, fresh food to function optimally,” Schmidt said. “For example, notice how many servings of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat each day. Fresh fruits and veggies contain fiber, which can help you feel full and cut back on unhealthy cravings. When you eat foods that nourish the body you feel satisfied and healthy. Pay attention to what your body needs, and how different foods make your body feel.”

Focus on Relieving Emotional Triggers to Prevent Emotional Eating

“Whether its stress, boredom, [or] sadness, there are alternative actions not involving food that can work to relieve the emotion,” Foti said. “Brainstorm a few alternative actions you can rely on in the moment.”

Have Patience

“Changing habits as complex as emotional eating takes time and many attempts of practice,” Foti said. “Expect to not be perfect and be OK with it. Rather than setting a goal to go ‘cold turkey’ focus on decreasing the incidents of emotional eating over time.”

Keep a Food Journal

Food journaling allows you to reflect on what your food choices are and identify where the trouble areas are,” Foti said. “Being accountable for your food choices will make you more mindful in the moment.

Stay Busy

A lot of the time, stress can cause us to freeze up and be unproductive. Instead of procrastinating doing your work, running your errands, or tackling your to-do list, put the bag of chips to the side and get your things done. By staying busy, you will prevent stress and mindless overeating. It’s normal to reach for food for comfort when you have a million and one things to do but instead, write a list of what you have to get done. Checking things off the list will be more of a relief than having a few more cookies.

Stop What You Are Doing and Take a Deep Breath

“The biggest mistake when feeling the onset of stress is not taking the time to stop and look at what is happening, taking some deep breaths, coming back to the present moment, and then beginning again,” Schmidt said. “We do not give ourselves permission to stop in our culture today. We feel pressure to push on and hope for the best. When we stop and breathe, we feel immediate relief from the physical symptoms of the stress and then we can take an action in alignment with solving the issue or problem. Stress can be our greatest friend if we can learn how to manage it instead of letting it get the best of us.”