When I was in high school, back in 2004-2008, something called Oreo Cakesters came out. This was before I was a clean eater or even healthy. I was active due to sports. But... I had no idea what I was doing when it came to nutrition. I just ate how I wanted. A mindset change needed to happen when it came to food. However, it didn't come for me until my late-20s.
Back to Oreo Cakesters... I don't know if you know what I'm talking about. But Oreo came out with a new product, the Cakester. I honestly don't even know if they still make them.
But they were two chocolate cakes with a layer of Oreo cream in the middle. Like a cookie sandwich. They were super soft and pretty good. And I loved Oreo at the time, so of course, I had to give them a try!
Because this product is filled with sugar, I quickly became addicted to it. Oreo is pretty good at that. It became a habit for me to eat 2 Oreo Cakesters at the same time every day no matter how bad they were for me.
I was active, so what was the harm right? This became a form of mindless eating for me. An automatic thing that I just did without thinking of the consequences. Consequences that were happening inside my body, not being noticed.
And this is why a change of mindset about food is essential to being healthy. Because you can fall into a pattern and not even realize you're doing it.
Mindless Eating Mindset and How to Make A Change
Mindless eating is when you have no regard for what you are eating or how much you are eating. Think of the bag of chips in front of the TV. Or the snacking out of boredom.
During mindless eating, you eat quicker. Even though it may not seem like you do. How many times have you looked down and said, " Oh my gosh, I ate that whole bag of chips!" Or, "Hey... where did all the chips go?"
It happens to us all. My weakness is the Harvest Snap Peas. So good. But if I'm not mindfully eating them... I WILL eat the entire bag and wonder where they all went.
Well, I can tell you where they went... In my belly.
Overeating is a big one. We don't pay attention to serving size nor do we realize that we just ate 100 chips. We become unaware of how much we are eating and if we are actually hungry or just eating to eat.
Your focus is on the TV or on filling the time, instead of what you are doing.
In my case, it was automatic with the Oreo Cakesters. A habit. I was unaware that I was doing every single day.
So... how do we change our mindset around food to stop mindless eating and become mindful eaters?
Here are a few tips that may help you break the habit of mindless eating.
Be Aware of Time
The first thing is to be aware and accept that you are a mindless eater. We all are at some point in our lives. And we're not perfect, so we will slip up. I know I do. But that's okay. The goal is to not let it happen as often.
The next thing you can do to change your mindless eating mindset is to eat your actual meals slower. If you eat your meals in less than 10 minutes, you are a mindless eater. And it's unhealthy for you to do this all the time.
You should be eating your meals between 10-20 minutes. Even 30 minutes if you can (30 minutes is a hard one for me. I try to stay near 15 minutes.)
Why do you ask?
Because it gives more time for your body to release the hormones that promote fullness.
Think about it... if you are shoveling food in your mouth, your body does not have time to react.
So that hormone that connects with your brain to tell you you're full... doesn't get there in time when you are ACTUALLY full. You just keep eating.
When you slow down, your body has time. The hormone connecting to your brain. When this process happens... you know you are FULL and stop eating.
When you sit down to eat ask, "Am I eating too fast?" The most important part to be aware of. It will help change your mindset about food.
If you struggle with eating slowly or asking the question, try using your opposite hand to eat. That should slow you down.
Not to mention... eating slowly will allow you to actually enjoy your meals! When's the last time you REALLY enjoyed a meal? Tasting all the flavors and just being grateful for the food that you have.
Change Your Plate, Change Your Mindset
Get rid of your larger plates and invest in smaller plates.
When you have a large plate, you feel the need to fill it up. This is because our brains are very visual. When the correct portion is on a large plate, it looks small. As a result, you get another scoop of whatever you are piling on.
For example, I'm really bad at this when it comes to holidays or when I make casseroles. Because I am a sucker for a good, cheesy casserole.
When I put my casserole on a plate, it looks like I didn't put anything on it. There is so much more space to fill! So guess what I do? I put another scoop of the casserole on the plate which is an overly large portion. And I eat the whole thing... because it's there for me to eat.
Now... if I put my casserole in a small bowl it looks like I have this massive portion because it's filled up the whole bowl, right? But in reality, it's the correct portion size. But to me... I'm eating well! This works with taco bowls for me, too. I will fill it to the brim if I don't have a smaller bowl. Which... I still opt for larger bowls sometimes.
Small plates or bowls will help you get the right portion size for your meal because your plate is filled up. You won't feel the need or desire to fill out space. This simple idea tricks your brain into thinking you have enough. Because... your plate is full right? There's no other room to put anything.
Opt for a small plate or bowl to change your mindset about food.
Check out Mindless Eating for more resources, free stuff, and what more you can do if you struggle with this.
A Brilliant Snack Tip
This is one of my favorite tips. It's the one that has helped me be a mindful eater.
We all love snacking. Sometimes it's hard not to snack. Especially with all the options we now have. But snacking can be dangerous if you are a mindless eater. Your overall well-being is at stake here. So this is an important idea.
Reading the serving size label before you start eating. Then, actually, count after each piece you eat. Don't have more or less, just have the EXACT amount. I'm not kidding either.
Yes... at first, you will be made fun of. At least I was. But getting into this habit and this mindset has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. When I do this I don't overeat, I'm aware of what I'm eating, and my relationship with food is so much better.
Yes... I do only have 10 sweet potato chips or only 21 Harvest Snap Peas. Let's my bag last longer, too. Now, I can enjoy more days to come because I didn't eat them all in one sitting.
Again, read the serving label before. This part is important because you already have in your head that you will eat this amount. It's all about mindset.
Reading the label first and telling yourself you WILL only eat this much gives you the power over food.
If you struggle with stopping, try creating an affirmation around food. I WILL put down the bag after the serving size has been reached. I WILL, I WILL. Give yourself the power.
Mindless Eater Turned Mindful Eater
If you want to become a mindful eater, try the ideas above.
When you do, it will increase your overall well-being, health, and mindset about food.
Take control, my friend. You can do this!
Certified Brain Health Coach
Owner of SustainaBRAIN