The inability to manage your stress often results in unhealthy, automatic overeating. You likely eat more than you think, don’t feel satisfied after a meal, nor remember what you ate. If this sounds familiar, here are some tips I shared with Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, to help cure your dietary amnesia.
Dietary amnesia occurs when you eat, and you don’t realize how much you ate, whether you’re satisfied, or if you even ate. Stress is often one of the underlying causes of dietary amnesia.
The Downside of Stress Eating
People who eat when they’re stressed often eat FAST which contributes to dietary amnesia. A study found that men who ate fast were fatter than men who ate slowly.
They also found the men ate faster than women — shoveling down 80 calories per minute compared to just 52 calories per minute for the ladies. If you want to lose weight, slow yourself down and eat “mindfully”.
What Does Eating Mindfully Mean?
Mindfulness is about paying attention. When you pay attention to your food, that is, really pay attention, you begin to notice the taste, color, aroma, and textures of your food and become aware of what you’re putting into your body. Eating uses all of your senses — it’s a sensory experience.
How to Eat Mindfully
1. Turn off distractions (e.g., TV, computer, phone) and focus on your food.
2. Create a relaxing ambience and prepare a well set table. Play some soft relaxing music.
3. Use smaller utensils, weighted utensils, or chopsticks to slow yourself down. Weighted utensils (weighing about 1/2 pound each) are designed to help Parkinson’s patients stabilize hand tremors when eating.
4. Relax before eating to calm yourself down and quiet your mind and body. Do some slow deep breathing.
5. Savor each bite. Again, when you’re stressed, you tend to eat fast.
6. Sip water, skim milk, or tea between bites. Staying hydrated will keep you from confusing dehydration with hunger. But be sure to wait to drink your fluids AFTER you’ve swallowed. That is, don’t wash down” your food as you won’t be able to enjoy their tastes and textures.
7. Add hot sauce, wasabi, and fiery spices, you’ll drink more water, slow down, and pay more attention to textures and flavors.
8. Avoid sugary drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup to avoid overeating. A UCSF study found that consuming too much high-fructose corn syrup interfered with leptin (a key appetite hormone that tells you you’ve had enough to eat).
Fit Tip: The cure for unhealthy dietary amnesia is eating mindfully. It’s not easy to break a lifelong habit of mindless eating. However, with steady practice, you’ll find it not only gets easier, but eating becomes more enjoyable.
Just make sure you allow yourself more time to eat, so you avoid eating on the run and gulping down your food.