It is a typical day for me. I’m between classes at NYU and only have 15 minutes to grab a bit to eat. I juggle an apple in one hand, my iPhone in the other, and still try to keep my eyes on traffic as I attempt to cross the street. It seems as though I never get time to slow down, unless I’m in my yoga class where my mind finally stops racing. And as I toss my apple core in the trash, I think about how I “can’t wait to eat a real meal later.”
For many of us, sitting down to enjoy our food has become a luxury, not a regular way of life. And creating a healthy eating plan is one luxury we should be making a priority. The benefits are a healthier, more satisfied life. I for one hate eating on the run. It is that type of mindless eating that I know can cause more issues. What is more important is being tuned in to my food.
With the invention of the TV tray to accompany the TV dinner, more Americans are finding ways to multitask while eating. These days, our environment makes it is easy to find a way to eat on the go. Cup holders are conveniently placed in our front and back seats, drive-through service is available at many locations, and packaged snacks can be picked-up at any small shop and consumed with no utensils while driving, walking and working. We are becoming programmed to think about everything except our food when we eat! This is no way to stay healthy. We have created a culture full of mindless eaters with no healthy eating plan. And while life is busy, and at times there seems to be no other options, being aware of healthy alternatives and trying our best to plan out our meals can help us avoid adding inches to our waistline that comes with habitual mindless eating.
When we don’t think about our meals, it can lead us to make less healthy food choices in several ways:
#1 We eat larger portions. It’s hard to keep track of how many chips you are eating when you’re watching the game. If you are going to be distracted while consuming your food, try to set aside a small portion, rather than eating right out of the family-size bag.
#2 We eat more food and feel less satisfied. When you are not thinking about the food you consume, you typically feel unsatisfied at the end of the meal. When I eat at work, I feel like I missed out and I look forward to the “real meal” I get to have later. But like it or not, that “unreal” meal I just consumed still has “real” calories that will add to the scale later.
#3 We eat more processed foods. A good majority of the foods that can be eaten without silverware come out of a package. These pre-packaged foods are generally less nutritious than a more natural alternative. Keeping foods like apples, bananas, avocados, pears, carrots and celery are all good ways to keep a healthy diet. Some packaged foods that can also be good for you are natural nuts, dried fruit (with no added sugar) and Larabars. These are all great additions to your healthy eating plan.
So, to adopt a healthy meal plan immediately and reduce your mindless eating, follow these healthy living tips:
- Avoid eating in front of the TV.
- Try not to eat while driving.
- Make an effort to think about your food while you consume it.
- When you can, sit down to eat your food instead of eating on the run.
With a little bit of effort, we can fight the mindless eating battle and go back to enjoying our food!