Mindful Eating Tips: 6 Ways to Cut Back on Mindless Snacking

Ever feel like you’re sticking to your healthy eating plan, but the weight just isn’t coming off? Or, despite all the effort to work out daily, you can’t see significant changes in your body? Well, it’s time to play detective.

Dig deeper to identify where you’re going wrong. Maybe you ate a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then you sat down to watch TV at the end of the day and all of a sudden there’s a bag of chips next to you. Maybe you did an 8fit workout and wanted to reward yourself with an ice cream treat and, before you know, it the pint is empty. In both cases, mindless snacking got the best of you, and it’s time to put some mindful eating tips into practice.

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What is mindful eating?

Everyone has a unique relationship with food, so it’s important to start by saying that there’s no right or wrong way to eat. Eating mindfully could be a number of approaches depending on your trouble areas. For some people it means eating without distractions (i.e. no phone, no computer, no TV), for others, it means only eating when you’re hungry and not when you’re stressed, sad or bored.

Wherever you are in your mindful eating journey, these tips will help prevent mindlessly snacking.

Tip #1: Log your meals

Write down everything you eat or drink for three days. You can do this in the 8fit app if carrying around a journal isn’t your thing. Journaling helps us become aware of our mindless habits. Maybe you munch on chips when you get home after a stressful day or have an afternoon chocolate at your desk when you need a break. The more honest you can be with yourself and what you’re eating, the easier it will be to identify when mindless snacking happens.

Tip #2: Check your hunger status

Hunger and cravings are often confused. Before you reach for that snack, take a moment and pause. Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10 (1 being not hungry, 10 being ravenous) how hungry am I?” If you’re not really hungry, ask yourself why you’re snacking.

Tip #3: Set aside time for eating – only eating

Many of us eat while watching TV, while working, or while commuting. Separate those activities from the act of eating a meal. It might feel strange at first, especially if you’re used to it, but when you take time to focus on your food and only the food, your body and mind can more easily register when you’re full. Even if you only have 5-10 minutes to eat, step away from your desk or turn your computer off at the very least.

Tip #4: One serving size does not fit all

It’s easy to eat an entire bag of nuts, a sleeve of crackers, or container of candies when you’re not paying attention or aren’t taking your time. If you’re snacking while doing something else, portion out your snack ahead of time by using a small bowl or plate.

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Tip #5: Don’t tempt your temptations

If you’re the type of person who’ll eat something unhealthy if it’s in the house, then don’t bring it in the house. We know that this gets tricky with families or when not everyone in the household is following a healthy meal plan. Do your best to get everyone on board with healthy snacking, but if that’s not possible, leave a note on the snack or keep a list of your goals in the kitchen. We know it sounds silly, but seeing a note that reads, “Don’t eat this, Lisa!” might just work.

If you’re someone who scarfs down snacks in while you’re stuck in traffic, don’t bring them into the car or keep them in the trunk to make it harder to get to them. If you know that walking by your favorite bakery on the way to work always lures you in, try a different route. Set up your environment for success.

Tip #6: Go for the whole

When you have an active hand in preparing your foods, eating them is a greater reward. Processed foods hijack this pleasure-reward system, which keeps you coming back for more instead of feeling full and satisfied. If it’s a particular flavor or texture you crave at snack time, swap processed junk foods out for whole foods. Here are some examples:

  • Crunchy: Handful of nuts paired with fresh celery or an apple
  • Smooth: Unsweetened yogurt with berries
  • Salty: Homemade popcorn
  • Sweet: Energy bars or bites

Find healthy recipes for all of your sweet, salty, crunchy or smooth snack cravings in the 8fit recipe book and always remember to keep these mindful eating tips top-of-mind.