Mindless Eating and Cravings
This is a popular topic at the moment. We have all had cravings for foods we know aren’t good for us or found ourselves mindlessly scoffing crisps in front of the TV but why do we do this?
Cravings usually (but not always) come about because we are overly depriving ourselves of certain food groups. This is commonly seen with low carbohydrate diets. It’s like the elephant in the room, cut out carbs and suddenly all you can think about are carbs.
This is why I don’t encourage overly restrictive diets, you can have your cake and eat it too, so long as you’re sensible.
Being in too big an energy deficit will lead to cravings because you are starving your body of vital nutrients. Hence why crash diets so often end in a haze of food binging and self-loathing.
Stress affects our body in a way that often leads us to cravings for sweet or salty foods. If you don’t get enough sleep this increases your stress levels. If you are sleeping restfully and for the correct length of time for your body to recover optimally you will be far less likely to crave sugary treats.
Emotional eating is linked in with stress, we often turn to ‘pleasing’ foods to hit the dopamine receptors in our brains to make us feel temporarily better.
Boredom often leads us to snack just because there’s nothing better to do, so fill your time constructively. You’ll not only eat less but feel more positive about your life.
Hunger. If you are hungry you will crave more food and if you haven’t planned your meals out sensibly you WILL snack and usually on less than optimal foods.
To avoid mindless eating you need to be more mindful about your meal selection. Plan ahead and know in advance what you are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In some cases, it’s better to have 4 meals instead of 3 so that you eat just before hunger sets in, this will prevent the desire to snack.
Savour your food, don’t just scoff it.
Eating on the go, while sitting at your desk or while watching TV are all proven to make people over eat. One study saw that people who eat in front of the TV not only ate more than those who don’t but also weighed more, obviously.
So take your time eating and experience the smell, taste and texture of your food.
I often hear people say things like “I can’t be bothered to cook for myself.” This, to me, indicates low-self-esteem. If you don’t see the value in preparing and eating a delicious and healthy meal for yourself, you are basically saying that you don’t see the value in prioritising your own health and wellbeing.
Make health and fitness your goal rather than solely concentrating on your weight. If you focus too much on the scales, you will be more likely to binge on comfort foods each time your weight fails to drop. Whereas a focus on fitness and, even, sports will help you to see the value in eating a healthy diet.
Or, just set an example for your children. Inspire them to be as fit, healthy and awesome as you are through your actions.