Mindless Eating: Why You Eat More Than You Realize
Mindless eating is the process of consuming food in much larger quantities and amounts on a regular basis. Part of the problem with this type of eating is it affects numerous people, even those who tend to stick to a healthier diet. Most mindless eating habits we develop have to do with our perceptions about our dining environments and access to food.
For instance, if you have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet, you might tell yourself you will make one trip through the line and are done. Yet, because you can smell the wonderful aromas and foods on the buffet, even after one plate you are back in line getting more.
Which brings us to the second problem associated with mindless eating: If it is out of sight, we continue to eat. Using our buffet example, if your server is constantly clearing away your dirty plates, your mind lacks the visual cue to know how much you have already eaten. Instead, you keep getting back into line until your stomach finally lets you know it is overly full.
Had the server left your stack of used dishes to pile up on your table, your brain would have seen how many platefuls you had consumed and would have signaled it was time to stop after the second plate, instead of the 3 or more plates of food you consumed because they were being cleared away as you ate.
Furthermore, portion sizes and our perception of the food on the plate can encourage mindless eating behaviors. Do you know how much food a half-cup serving really is? You might be surprised if you measured out your food for your meals into the recommended serving sizes.
However, if you put the food on a big plate, it can look sparse. Your mind will play tricks on you and tell you that it only looks like a quarter cup, not a half cup. So, you pile on more food, even though you just measured it out.
If the food had been measured out onto a smaller plate, so it appeared like the plate was overflowing, then our minds would translate this as being plenty of food. Using smaller plates and bowls greatly helps address some mindless eating habits.
When it comes to snacking in between meals, the same issues already discussed still apply. If you grab the family-size bag of chips and sit down and slowly eat it while watching an hour-long show, before you know it you will have consumed half the bag if not more. On the other hand, if you had taken a small bowl and counted out the recommended serving size, you would have stopped once the bowl was empty.
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