Minimize Mindless Eating

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on March 9, 2007 · 0 comments

Sound impossible? It’s not. Each morning you decide to eat or not. Cereal or toast? Toast with butter? Or butter and jelly? One slice or two? Coffee, tea or Coke? Milk or sugar? One spoonful or two? Fruit or juice? Large glass or small? Seconds?

All of these are considered low involvement decisions – usually, we’re not even aware we’re making them. But over time they can have a significant impact on what and how much we eat. Fortunately, you can counteract mindless eating with mindful solutions. Start small, easy and doable – success, no matter how small, breeds success.

Put distance between you and food.

The harder it is to get food, the less you will end up eating. Empty the candy dish on your desk. At home, put food in the cupboards instead of leaving it on the kitchen counter. Don’t stock a mini refrigerator in the family room. Having to travel to your food gives you enough time to ask, “Do I really want that?”

Use small plates, serving spoons and bowls.

Large servings encourage overeating. People take over 50% more food when given a large plate or when served from a large bowl. Next time you eat ice cream, use a dessert dish instead of a soup bowl — we generally eat whatever we serve ourselves, so if we over serve we will overeat. Shapes also effects consumption. We drink less from tall slim glasses and more out of short fat ones.

Don’t be blinded by the “health halo.”

Low fat, reduced calorie, low carb, sugar free, light — are all terms used to make us think a food is good for us. But, too much of any food equals too many calories. A restaurant-sized salad slathered in dressing is more than any of us needs to eat at one sitting. Even “healthy” foods need to be eaten in moderation.

Buying bulk adds bulk.

Warehouse stores encourage us to buy bigger sizes, which leads to eating more – people take larger helpings out of larger packages — and eating more frequently. Single servings and individual packs are smarter purchases. Or repack larger amounts into smaller containers.

Order small.

Regardless of the choice, go for the smallest option. At restaurants order a lunch or half portion. Select the small or regular coffee, even if it’s called “tall.” Try a “kid’s” meal. Eat medium sized apples, oranges and baked potatoes. Order a one-scoop cone. Smaller sizes equals a smaller you.

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