Every day, most of us make hundreds of food-oriented decisions. Yet, we are aware of very few of them. The others occur in the subconscious mind, often resulting in mindless eating, where you’re not really thinking about what you are putting into your body. This, naturally, has consequences.
Mindless eating causes you to under-eat or over-eat, although it is normally the latter. The result is usually weight gain, which affects how you look and increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Don’t eat mindlessly. Here are 13 science-backed ways to stop…
Use Smaller Dishes
Studies have shown that we eat more than 90 percent of the food we serve ourselves. Thus, if you reduce the quantity of food you dish out, you can consume considerably fewer calories.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the size of your portions is by using smaller plates. This can help you keep your weight in check, as large plates tend to make normal portions look small.
Keep Reminders of What You Ate
According to researchers, people tend to eat more than they should, to a large extent, because they cannot see the foods they have already eaten. It’s a subconscious and influential visual cue.
By keeping evidence of what you’ve consumed in sight (such as the plates from previous courses), you can stay mindful of what you’ve eaten, keeping you from eating more than you’re supposed to.
Opt for Smaller Packages
Food packaging is another visual cue that commonly leads to overeating. That is, buying and eating from larger packages can lead to the consumption of more calories – a lot more, in some cases.
When researchers gave participants of a recent study large packages of ground beef, tomato sauce, and spaghetti, they prepared almost 25 percent more food than those with small packages.
Limit Food Choices
More food options equal more eating, research shows. It can cause you to eat up to 23 percent more, as a result of a phenomenon that experts refer to as sensory-specific satiety.
The theory is that the senses become numb after repeated exposure to the same food flavors and that a selection of flavors in a single meal delays this effect, prompting people to overeat.
Hide the Treats
If you can’t see it, then you won’t be tempted to eat it. Seeing food pushes a person to consider eating it. And the more often you see a particular food, the more likely you are to consume it.
This can work to your advantage, though, if you keep sweet treats and unhealthy foods out of sight while ensuring that healthy, nutritious foods are visible and accessible.
Make Eating Inconvenient
People eat foods that require more work to eat less often. This has been demonstrated in studies. In other words, if you take the convenience out of eating, then you are less likely to eat mindlessly.
Keep less nutritious foods out of reach. Pick foods that require additional work to access and prepare. Any additional steps you can add reduce the likelihood of overindulging.
Eat More Slowly
Are you eating too fast? When you eat slowly, you consume less and feel fuller. You get the chance to think about what you’re putting into your body. Slow eaters also tend to enjoy their meals more.
Experts recommend taking 20 minutes or more to finish a meal. To reduce your eating speed, eat with your non-dominant hand and chew more. You could also use chopsticks rather than a fork.
Disconnect at Mealtimes
Switch off your television, your smartphone, your computer, and other technological devices at mealtimes. These unnecessary distractions lead to mindless eating and overconsumption of food.
It was noted in one study that people watching TV while eating ate 71 percent more macaroni and cheese. Plus, the longer the distraction, the more likely you are to eat more than your body needs.
Mind Your Dining Companions
It’s best to eat alone, assert scientists, and eating with just one more person can see you eating as much as 35 percent more food. Eating with a group of people can increase consumption by 96 percent.
Eating with others pushes you to eat more because it increases the time that you spend eating. While others are finishing their meals, you may be tempted to peck away mindlessly and order dessert.
Eat When You’re Hungry
A lot of people rely on external cues to determine their hunger levels, but this can lead to weight gain. It results in overeating because many times you’re eating when your body doesn’t need sustenance.
The solution? Rely on natural internal signals and eat only when you’re hungry. To determine whether you actually are hungry, ask yourself if you’d eat something that you are not particularly fond of.
Read Food Labels
Not all foods that claim to be healthy actually are. “Low-fat” foods, for example, can be low in fat while not necessarily being low in calories. That is why one should always check nutrition and ingredients.
People are likely to eat more when they believe that it is healthy. In fact, the participants of one research study consumed almost 50 percent more when the product had low-fat written on the label.
Stop Buying in Bulk
Buying foods in bulk is convenient and can save you money. The downside is that stockpiling can also facilitate mindless eating since people generally eat more when they have more food.
Instead of stockpiling food, purchase only what you need, steering clear of snacking foods for unexpected events. This will remove the ability to eat more than necessary when bored, etc.
Choose High-Volume Foods
Some foods are more filling than others, and eating food that is higher in volume deceives the brain into thinking that more was consumed, decreasing the likelihood that you will overeat.
Vegetables are an example of a high-fiber food that has a low energy density. They can add volume to meals, making you feel fuller without increasing the number of calories that you consume.