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Improve Your Relationship with Food: 7 Ways to Stop Eating Mindlessly

Improve Your Relationship with Food: 7 Ways to Stop Eating Mindlessly

Are you really hungry or was that just a craving? Lose weight and improve your relationship with food by following these 7 methods to stop eating mindlessly.

Slow the (Bleep) Down

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you empty your plate at the restaurant and feel just fine, but about 30 minutes later, you find yourself with a bellyache so excruciating that you want to curl up in a ball and cry. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes for your body to experience satiety (the feeling of fullness that occurs after a meal), so if you shovel your food down your throat without thought process, it’s awfully easy to overeat.

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1. Put your fork down between every bite.

Only take one bite at a time. Put your fork down and chew slowly while focusing on the aroma, taste, and texture of your food.

2. Drink a glass of water before your meals.

An estimated 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, so it’s quite likely you’re one of them. The sensations of hunger and thirst are almost indistinguishable, so drink a big glass of ice water before every meal to ensure you don’t eat past the point of fullness.

3. Give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes to eat.

The faster you eat, the more likely you’ll over-eat. If you take 5 minutes for breakfast now, give yourself 10 minutes tomorrow. Do that for a week and then increase it to 15 minutes. Practice patience by fully immersing yourself in the eating experience.

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4. No more distracted eating in front of the TV or at your desk.

Have you ever eaten something and felt like your stomach was satisfied but your mouth was still hungry? This mixed message was due to the cephalic phase digestive response (“cephalic” is just a fancy word for your head). To effectively use the nutrition contained in a meal, your brain must experience pleasure; and to experience pleasure, you must pay attention to the qualities of your food (taste, texture, aroma). If you eat while you’re distracted, you won’t notice any of that and your brain will interpret the missed experience as hunger.

Are those late night eating binges starting to make more sense now? I hope so.

Become a Mindful Eater

“I am not a glutton—I am an explorer of food” – Erma Bombeck

Now that you’ve managed to slow down at the dinner table, let’s do a little exploring to discover how food makes you feel and why you eat the way you do.

5. Start a food diary.

Write down every meal, snack, and beverage you consume for the next month. Include any relevant details like:

  • Your surroundings (a restaurant or home?)
  • How you felt after eating (fulfilled or lethargic?)
  • A rating describing how much you enjoyed your meal (on a scale of 1-10)

6. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel.

Using your food diary as a guide, pay attention to how different foods influence your mood and energy in different ways. You’ll probably discover that natural, healthy foods like fruits and veggies make you feel a whole lot better than processed stuff. This should come as no surprise, but keeping a diary detailing your relationship with food will make it more difficult to dodge this reality.

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7. Be aware of the external cues driving your eating decisions.

By “external cues,” I mean things like:

  • How stressful your day was
  • Who you’re hanging out with
  • The amount of food that is available

Before you eat any food, ask yourself: “Am I in full control of this eating decision, or am I being negatively influenced by an external cue outside of my control?”

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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