What tactics can you employ to stop munching when you aren’t physically hungry but find yourself reaching for something?
A lot of our eating falls into the habits, emotions and boredom categories. How often have you found yourself wrist deep in a bag of popcorn, or cheek full of chocolate before you realize you never even felt hungry? Mindless or emotionally charged eating can really have devastating consequences, not just to our waistline and physique goals, but to our emotional well-being. Because, what follows an episode of eating not out of necessity?… GUILT, DISGUST, SHAME, SELF LOATHING, PUNISHMENT, A SENSE OF GIVING UP or FAILURE… to name a few emotions. Sound familiar? Unless we put tools in place to handle these moments of challenge, we will fall victim to a repeat cycle. Here are a few suggestions to help you stop the mindless eating before it begins.
Track your tendencies. The first 3 days don’t necessarily try to stop yourself, instead commit to at least tracking when and what you do. Are you happy? Mad? Sad? Lonely? Bored? What times of day, what happened leading up to the unnecessary eating episode? How were your meals prior to this? By becoming more aware of the big picture you can start to see patterns and catch triggers.
Occupy idle hands. If hours of TV or social media surfing with a snack at hand each night is your M.O. then you need a new hobby. Let’s be honest, that isn’t helping any area of your life one bit! Replace these pastimes with ones that call on brain power, your creative side or physical exertion. Maybe buy a sketch pad, color a mandala page, learn a new skill, play a solitaire card game, get engaged in a good book, try some at home videos for quick workouts, meditations or yoga. Try calling a friend or family member to catch up, don’t just surf social media as a way to stay in touch – that often leads to false envy of someone else’s life, possessions, looks and adds to a negative emotional state. Often if you can occupy yourself for 10-20 minutes past an initial urge or craving or heightened emotional state the “need” to each for food will pass.
Tea Time! Savor the process and flavors of a delicious low caffeine tea. Maybe burn a non-toxic candle, find a quiet place at home and review the things in your head you are grateful for each day as you enjoy a soothing cup. No matter who you are there are things both big and small to be in awe of and thankful for, take a more in-depth look around you. Tazo brand tea makes some fun dessert flavors like Butterscotch Blondie and Vanilla Bean Macaron and TheTeaSpot has some therapeutic and yummy sachets. Hot liquid not your thing? You can make them iced or freeze the tea into no calorie popsicles too, passionfruit pop or wild spiced orange anyone?
Mark the spot. Use my Be Mindful Tracker to create a game for yourself. At the beginning of the week set up rewards and positive punishments. A positive punishment is something you do that actually helps you in some area but is beyond what you would normally do. For example, putting $5 in a jar for every time you gave in to mindless eating. Then using that savings over time to invest in something positive to better yourself or give to a charity etc. Another example could be an extra physical activity for each over indulgence – maybe one circle on the chart equates to 5 minutes of jumping rope or 150 crunches at the end of the week. A reward can be anything that makes you happy that is non-food related. Maybe a manicure or new workout top. On the tracker there are five opportunities each day to pass over that mindless eating (I figured that was about the average or max number of times people might turn to snacking). Each week there are 35 circles, aka chances for success. You set a maximum allowance for “slip ups” between 1-5 at the beginning of the week. If you aren’t able to overcome an urge, you fill in a circle. At the end of the week if you have stayed within your allotted minimum you get your reward. For all the circles filled in regardless of how many you employ the positive punishment for each. There is space to the right of the circle to track what tools you put in place when you successfully overcome the urge to snack. Click here to download and print your tracker.
3 minutes of Fitness. Finding yourself in the pantry deciding on some munchies? HALT! Set your phone timer to 3 minutes. Then begin doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks or body weight squats, 30 seconds of crunches, then 30 seconds pushups (floor or against a wall/countertop depending on your strength level). Cycle through those 3 exercises twice. 3 minutes are up! Are you still wanting to eat now that you have refocused on yor body and boost endorphins??
Confront your issues. If you are an emotional eater spend some real time uncovering WHY – what is setting you off? Unhappy relationship? Less than fulfilling work life? Strife with a family member? Financial struggles? Feel taken advantage of by someone? All the aversion tactics in the world for food won’t uncover a happier you if you can’t start tackling what truly is EATING AT YOU. Make a list of areas for improvement, then make a column of solutions. From those solutions create 2-5 actionable steps to start taking to make the solutions a reality. This may require the help of a professional. Maybe a head hunter for a new career, a financial planner to assist in getting your organized and focused, a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, whatever the help you may need, know you are valuable enough to start demadnign better for yourself.
Do you have another tactic that works for you? Tell me about it! Sharing with our community helps us all live better! Leave a comment below! Follow me on Instagram for more ways to live better.