I write this with parents in mind, because how many times do you finish your kid’s dinner off, when they’ve just left those couple of chips, or a fish finger. But in reality, we are all guilty of this. We mindlessly pick at food and don’t think of it as over-eating.
The example I first used, parents finishing their kid’s meals off. They have most likely just ate theirs with them and are full, but rather than bin food (or give it to the dog in my house), they carry on eating their children’s, over eating beyond what they should be. This may be as little as an extra 100 kcals, but these little extras soon add up.
Studies show that people over eating by small amounts, a biscuit here and there, a couple of chips or that extra roast potato that’s left, fail to see how this can cause weight gain, because at the time it seems so minor. If the overeat is occasional then it is a minor thing and people shouldn’t worry, but it is when these extra 100kcal-300kcal become daily, that you will soon start to see the weight creep on. If you overate 100kcal-300kcal a day for a year, you would gain between 10.5 lbs and 31 lbs. Can you see how this is now a big problem? And losing that weight is more difficult than it was gaining it.
Becoming aware of overeating usually only kicks in when the overeat becomes more substantial, around 500kcal-1000kcal. People tend to know when they have had a spurge at a weekend, or drank excessive amounts of alcohol, it’s more recognisable than a small biscuit. They know this is bad for them and that they have consumed way more than their recommended daily calorie allowance. This is now a mindful overeat. Our mind is acknowledging that we have consumed way more than what we should, and that maybe we need to act on this, by either exercising to burn off the excess calories or eat a little less over the coming days. If no action is taken, then again, we will see a weight gain. This type of eating is mindful. We are aware of what we have done, rather than the mindless picking that goes unnoticed.
How do we combat overeating?
There are many ways we can help to combat overeating but I’ll just discuss a few right now. Portion size is a big problem these days. We tend to bulk buy things from supermarkets, to save time and money, but this bulk buy tends to lead to overeating, because 1, we have to take out a portion and this can be very misleading for people and 2, when we see food we tend to want to eat it, making either a bigger portion size or more portions. It’s like being served a plate of food to eat, or given an empty plate to go and fill yourself from a buffet. You will always eat more when you take your own. To help combat portion size we can use smaller plates, so it looks full when our food is on it. My dinner plates are enormous, way bigger than they need to be. If I serve my Man a ‘normal’ amount on them he thinks he’s been cheated out of food, because the plates not full. When in reality, if I served him a full plate, he would be consuming way more calories than needed.
Another way is to make all our decisions around eating mindful. Of course, some days overeating will still occur, and that’s fine, what we want is to make us aware of when this has happened. If you enjoy a biscuit with a brew in work, rather than having the biscuits next to your mug, ready and waiting so eating them becomes ‘normal’ and an unconscious ‘mindless’ decision, put them in a cupboard, out of sight, in a different part of the kitchen. You now have to make a conscious decision to go and get the biscuits. In doing this it now makes you aware whether you actually want the biscuit or not. You switch to a mindful state and actively make the decision; do I want this biscuit? We are now aware of the calories we are consuming.
I hope this helps to switch your brain into a mindful thinking state when it comes to food. If you are struggling to lose weight, it could be because of these mindless acts that you aren’t consciously aware of.
I’d love to know your thought on this, and if you have any tips?