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Mindless Eating vs. Mindful Eating
Jul 25, 2021
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Have you ever experienced eating too much or finishing a plateful of snacks in one sitting while you are busy surfing the net or watching videos with your smartphone? I think most of us are guilty of this, including me that sometimes I am not fully aware of how much I have eaten. Mindless eating seems to be prevalent as we are more preoccupied with other things while having our meals. We unconsciously binge on food in front of us due to more focused attention to things that we think are more important than eating itself.

If you are into people watching, you may find that people come in groups to a nearby restaurant and surprisingly, silence pervades not because their attention is focused on eating but because they are busy with their smartphones. So, mindless eating generally is like that. We eat almost unaware of how much we eat or sometimes not even remember what we have eaten for a few minutes ago.

Mindless eating also happens at home. My daughter and I usually have dinner together without talking over the table and not concentrating on eating because the smartphone is preferred. It seems that eating is not anymore relevant until we feel that we are starving or hungry. 

You can also observe if you are eating mindlessly with its characteristics that are good to take note of: (https://books.google.com.ph/books).

1. Habitual eating

2. Multitasking while eating (watching TV or movies, driving, or talking while consuming food)

3. Skipping breakfast or other meals

4. Continuing to eat despite feeling full

5. Eating everything on your plate regardless of the portion

6. Eating triggered by emotional rather than physical hunger

7. Ignoring hunger and body cues (for example, rumbling stomach or low energy)

8. Grazing on food

Mindless eating happens because of some factors that contribute to it as described in an article published online (https://www.nchpad.org/) namely:

  • Disinhibition - eating when you’re not hungry due to some reasons such as boredom that sets it and eating is an option that will give you something to do.
  • Distracted eating - when the mind is sidetracked by television, conversations, and other distractions
  • Lack of awareness - It is easy to not even realize how much food you’re consuming, especially when eating directly out of the bag or not measuring portion sizes.
  • Emotional eating - Emotions can play a large role in mindless eating. Some individuals may turn to food as a sense of comfort when sad or may potentially eat when bored
  • External reasons - An outside source, such as food advertisements or television commercials, may contribute to mindless eating. When you see an ad in the video introducing sumptuous food, you might get excited to eat that food as fast as you can.

“Mindless eating can also bring some risks such as weight gain. “Multitasking—like eating while watching television or working—and distracted or hurried eating can prompt you to eat more. Slowing down and savoring your food can help you control your intake.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/). As such, mindless eating must be reduced or totally controlled to prevent its risks.

"It was also found that participants in a study who watched TV or played video games while eating had poor memory of what they ate. They also ate significantly more at their next meal and felt more hungry than their non-distracted counterparts, even if they ate the same amount of food." (https://www.psychologytoday.com/).

“Distracted eating may interfere with the memory of recent food intake, and can also lead to increases in subsequent snacking” (https://www.eufic.org/).

In short, mindless eating can bring about dangers and risks to our health if left unguarded or in our control. In contrast to mindless eating, we also have the option to be changed into a mindful eating person: Mindful eating means:( retrieved from the book Eating Mindfully, by Albers, S.)

1. Awareness of how you eat

2. Having the knowledge of your hunger and fullness cues.

3. Sensing and savoring food- that is, really tasting it

4. Focusing attention on the eating process 

5. Understanding emotional cues - the feeling or urge to eat or not

6. Eating to nourish your body and meet your hunger accurately

7. Letting go of critical thoughts

8. Conscious awareness of your food choices

9. Being alert and observant to how you think about food

To be a mindful eater, you have to know some tips that would increase your ability to control your behavior or your multitasking leading to a healthier life. These tips are also taken from an article published for your information and reading pleasure. (taken from the same source). 

1. Awareness - tune in to your senses, taste, smell, look, touch

2. Be in the present moment, that is, just eat when you are eating and do not worry about the past or future. 

3. Mind your environment

4. Be non-judgemental- avoid criticism and guilty words

5. Acceptance - accept things as they are. Listen to your body and stop fighting with it and with your eating

Having those tips in mind for mindful eating will make you more focused not only on what you eat but also on the things that are more important than video gaming or internet gaming and even watching TV shows that can distract your attention and grab your quality time.

Doing physical exercise will also help you to pay more attention to the more relevant and important tasks you have to do each day. For example, you can have an exercise machine from Flexispot that will also enable you to work productively at the same time.

One great exercise machine from this company is the Home office All-in-One Desk Bike/Bike Workstation V9  that gives you more than two activities that enable you to focus on an interesting task aside from your work and to bike as an exercise activity. The desktop is movable and adjustable and has sufficient space to work out your plans and be more mindful. The seat height is also adjustable with its pneumatic adjustment level for your convenience and comfort. It also has eight (8) resistance levels for a more intense workout and you can see your progress from an LCD digital display. Learn more about it on the website now.