Are You a Mindful Eater?

Do you find yourself overeating at mealtime? Do you feel as if you are out of control with food?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you might be engaging in impulsive eating behaviors. Don’t worry; you are not alone! Impulsive eating can happen within a matter of minutes and may have you unaware of the number of calories you consumed. Impulsive eating behaviors may be triggered by skipping a meal or two throughout the day or due to a stressful day at work, but life happens. The way you respond to these situations is what matters most. You may be wondering how you can limit these impulsive decisions regarding food and how you can become a mindful eater instead.

Let’s first talk about meal skipping.

The reason why you skipped a meal should not be the focus, but the solution to the problem is what you should prioritize. This can be avoided by having “better-for-you” options available near you, as situations in life happen whether they are in or out of your control. We live in a busy society, but when it comes to eating, slowing down and becoming more aware of the choices we make can make all the difference. In addition, keeping high-protein snacks like protein bars, almonds, tuna packets, or protein shakes nearby can help curb that hunger before that hunger hits you. 

Do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods! 

This is a big reason why many people find themselves overeating. We may feel guilty after indulging in that warm, savory decadent piece of chocolate cake at the birthday party, but portion control is key. If we deprive ourselves of these things, we increase the chances of overeating, leading to feelings of guilt and disgust. These impulses can be controlled as we can indulge, as long as we do not over-indulge. How can you do this? Start by making small, maintainable changes each day to help you find control with food. This can happen by eating one serving size of your favorite food at a time, or it may occur by keeping those tempting foods out of the house. Remember, all changes matter, and all changes take time! 

Separate your emotions from food, as they can affect your eating patterns dramatically. 

This is easier said than done! We may not control how we feel, but we can control what foods we eat when situations come our way. 

So, whether it is because you undereat, skip meals, or are depriving yourself of your favorite foods, you can become a mindful eater. You can do this by preparing for those “curveball moments.” Carry around those “healthier” snacks for the time situations are thrown your way. Then, you can still succeed in controlling those impulsive decisions when everything else seems out of control. 

If you are interested in learning more about impulsive decisions when eating, talk to a Registered Dietitian at the Center for Coordinated Care Weight Management Program

Information provided by: Amelia Woodyard, a student intern at Firelands Center for Coordinated Care.