I’ve heard my mother-in-law talk about washing day at her house when she was growing up. Every Tuesday was devoted to washing clothes for her family of eight. In fact, there were so many clothes to wash that her aunt would often come down to pitch in because she only had two kids and fewer clothes.
Years ago, it was OK to devote a whole day to a singular task. However today, though life should theoretically be easier and less complicated, it seems like we are busier and more distracted than ever!
In this fast-paced world it seems like we’ve learned to do more and more on auto-pilot? Every day companies come up with new gadgets and gizmos to make our life just a little easier. Unfortunately, all this convenience has trained us to think that we must always have to do several things at one time. Has the compulsion to multi-task turned you into a mindless eaters?
Mealtime has experienced a significant shift in the last several decades. For many, it is no longer the event it once was. How many times do you find yourself grabbing something on the go as you rush to your next task? Or, do you often munch on a snack while you are working on another project?
Multi-tasking has produced a generation of mindless eaters. How about you? Take a minute to jot down exactly what you ate yesterday (or today, if you are reading this post in the evening). Were you able to do it?
Now, let’s go a step further…write down the exact amount you had of each of the various items on your list.
If you successfully completed this little test; congratulations you are mindful of the food you put into your body. However, if you had trouble remembering exactly what you ate, you can still take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
I used to be a mindless eater. The interesting thing is, I would often eat mindfully at meal time, but I would blow my daily calorie intake by nibbling on snacks and eating multiple sweet desserts throughout the rest of the day.
I finally learned to develop small habits to become more mindful of the foods I eat and the amounts I actually consume. Researchers at Cornell University actually developed the National Mindless Eating Challenge to try to figure out if individualized small habits really make a difference for mindless eaters.
Cornell University researchers launched the National Mindless Eating Challenge (NMEC), an online healthy eating and weight loss program which focused on simple eating behavior changes, instead of dieting.
Upon signing up for the NMEC, participants were asked a series of questions about their eating goals, background, and well-being. Based on their answers, they were sent three customized tips to follow for a month.
Here are the tips that participants found most helpful.
· Keep counters clear of all foods but the healthy ones
· Never eat directly from a package – always portion food out onto a dish
· Eat something hot for breakfast within the first hour of waking up
· Avoid going more than 3-4 hours without having something small to eat
· Put down your utensils between bites to slow down your eating
Source: same as above
Never eating directly from the package and eating every 3-4 hours are two habits I have found extremely helpful.
Isolate your eating to a single activity instead of eating on the run. Not only will you be more aware of the quantity of food you consume, but you will also be freed up to listen to your body. When you feel satisfied, stop eating even if there is still food left over.
Test yourself at the end of each day to see if you can accurately list the foods and the quantities you consumed. This small step can save you from consuming hundreds of mindless calories.
If the idea of developing more mindful eating habits rings a bell with you, then check out my book, Find Your Weigh.
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