Hey Angels and Alphas,
Mindless eating is one unproductive habit we all tend to indulge in from time to time. Being completely mindful and almost zen-like during every meal or snack you eat is downright unrealistic, and the mere thought you have to be can derail all the work you may be doing to recover your relationship with food. Life has been stressful, busy, and quite unpredictable, given the last few years.
All of these factors indirectly cause mindless eating because we’re in constant need for comfort or to just not use our minds for a few minutes. And guess what – it’s totally OK to use some of these coping strategies as long as you’re not only relying on unhealthy coping strategies.
Identifying the cause of your mindless eating can also allow you to pinpoint everything from the initial stressors to what you have to work on to fill the missing gaps in your relationship with food. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
HOW REGULARLY AM I EATING?
Regular meals and snacking are two keys to having steady, balanced energy levels, blood sugar, and appetite regulation. If you’re someone who is mindlessly eating because you’re hungry due to all the meals you skipped throughout the day, that’s a problem. But that’s a problem with a lot of easy fixes. First and foremost, aim to have a steady breakfast full of protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
Examples include eggs, chicken, Greek yogurt, tofu, string cheese, fish, or your morning bowl of oatmeal with Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and honey.
For healthy fats, you can go for seeds, whole nuts, olive oil, nut butter, and avocado.
For fiber, you can go with veggies, fruits, rice, quinoa, beans, oats, etc.
HOW AM I MANAGING STRESS LEVELS?
How do you go about managing stress? Like we mentioned, food can easily become an unhealthy coping strategy for when you’re feeling stressed. If your mindless eating happens to occur around usually stressful periods, you should try to develop some additional strategies that will help you deal with all the extra stress and difficult emotions you’re experiencing. This could be anything from meditating, reading a book, calling a friend to journaling and doing exercise. Everyone is different in the ways that they distress, so don’t hesitate to experiment with ways to take care of yourself.
THINK ABOUT THE WHEN AND YOU’LL FIND THE WHY
If your mindless eating tends to happen around the same time every day (let’s say, the 4 p.m. slump you get at work), then simply switching up your schedule a little bit could be very helpful.
For example, if you experience an afternoon slump, this often happens when you’re hungry for a snack between lunch and dinner. If you add a protein-rich, fiber-rich snack to your afternoon, such as an apple with string cheese or some whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, you’ll probably feel much more energized during that time.
As the evening approaches, make sure your dinner includes satisfying protein, carbs, and veggies. If you skimp on your carbs during dinner, your body is going to crave them. Your body needs carbs! Then switching up your routine by playing a game, doing some yoga, reading, or journaling during that time could also be helpful.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS…
Instead of always trying to beat yourself up for your habit of mindless eating, you should try to dig in what’s causing it. There are ways in which your body and your mind may be telling you why.
We can always learn from our own behaviors, and in cases such as this one, fixing mindless eating could actually mean focusing more on nourishing yourself throughout the day or just targeting stress management in better ways. Remember to slow down and take better care of yourself, and sometimes, mindless eating may be the perfect clue that you need to do exactly that.