It is so easy, and so common, for us to eat mindlessly. I may come home and begin eating whatever is available without thoughts about hunger, need and the quality of food I’m eating in the moment.

This is especially obvious when we snack in front of the TV (or at the movie theatre). We snack automatically, distracted by whatever we are watching and end up eating far too much without regard to the consequences of weight gain or impact on our nutritional health.

Eating mindfully takes a willingness to sit and slow down; to become aware of the emotions inside of us. We must do this without judgement. If you are tense or angry from the day’s events, accept the emotions and try to focus on whether you are truly hungry or simply have a desire to eat to suppress the frustration inside. All of us must slow down; we eat too much, too fast and truly never wait for the satiety signal to tell us, “enough.” Learn to be aware of when you are satisfied and when you are full. We should never leave a meal feeling “too full.” If we do, we have likely eaten more than our body requires.

The holiday season is coming and people will be involved with multiple social events. Under these circumstances it is very important to be mindful of not only what you are choosing to eat, but how much. We are not obligated to eat everything on our plate. Learn to say to yourself, “enough.” The simplest way to learn satisfaction and not fullness is to eat slowly; enjoy each bite; try to gain more satisfaction of your food by being aware of textures and smells. Try to get away from eating automatically in response negative emotions or the stress that comes with events; these emotions tend to disinhibit our ability to make proper food choices.

How many times have we gone to the movies after eating dinner at home and purchased a bag of popcorn, simply to eat while we are watching whatever is on the screen? Is this hunger? Is this a necessity? Most likely it’s a habit and we must learn to get away from these mindless habitual eating patterns.

Eating has become disconnected from nourishment and instead has become an automatic reaction to negative emotions, misunderstood physical sensations and mental stress that have little to do with being hungry.

Learn mindful eating. Slow down. Enjoy each bite. Avoid eating in front of the TV. Learn to eat to satisfaction and not fullness.

In our society with readily available snacks, big portions and never-ending screen time, we have created the habit of putting too many nutritionally-empty calories into our bodies than are necessary for daily functioning.

Be mindful. Keep pushing forward and get back on track. You can do it – never give up trying.

Dr. Doug