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Health Articles

Mindless Eating

by Joseph Packo

     Have you ever found yourself staring at a computer screen at work munching away at a bag of potato chips? Stopped at a gas station on a long drive and grabbed a bag of candy and a sugary soda to help pass the time? Sat down on the couch, turned on a movie and ate an entire package of chocolate chip cookies? If you’re anything like millions of others around the world, you may be suffering from a condition we will call “Mindless Eating”! Mindless eating may cause temporary spikes in energy levels, cause you to binge on sugary and unhealthy foods, and can derail a diet by causing weight gain. Here are some tips to help you avoid mindless eating and stay on track with your weight loss goals.

     One of the easiest and most important practices you can put into place immediately is to eat often throughout your day, and to keep it on the healthy side. This can sometimes be hard if you are in the habit of eating fast foods, sugary snacks, and not watching what you eat. Make sure that you are getting three balanced meals every day. Balanced meals on the ITG Diet in Step 1 include your ITG food choice for the meal, as well as unlimited salad and at least four cups of vegetables which are split between lunch and dinner, or spread out all day long. Well balanced meals in Step 2 and 3 include a lean protein choice, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and unsaturated fats found in olive oils and nuts. Eating well-balanced, whole food meals keeps your metabolism and blood sugar levels stable, as well as helping you avoid snacking on sugary snacks and carbohydrate-filled meals for energy boosts.

     You don’t have to go through your day feeling hungry on a diet. Snack at least two times or more each day in between meals. Whenever you feel hungry, make sure to have raw vegetables and healthy snacks nearby at home or work to munch on. If you work in an office or building with a vending machine, stay away! Go for some celery with Walden Farms peanut butter, some sliced, raw green or red bell peppers for crunch and sweetness, or use one of your ITG Puddings or Protein Chips for a lower carb, high protein treat. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks that will boost your energy levels temporarily, but cause you to crave more of them as your blood sugar levels drop.

     Where do you eat your meals? Do you drive to the office in a hurry each morning with your sugary coffee drink or a number 2 combo meal from a fast food restaurant? Do you sit in front of the television with a buffet of junky foods and unhealthy side dishes? Studies have proven that sitting in front of a television or computer screen while eating can cause you to eat more calories during a meal. This goes for your children as well! Try to identify where you tend to eat mindlessly. Set your dining room or kitchen table with plates and silverware, and serve a meal to family and friends instead. Making dinner, or any meal, an important social part of the day is proven to help you and your family eat healthier and happier.
     Keep those unhealthy foods and snacks out of sight. Don’t leave that bowl of sugary candy or jar of cookies sitting on a counter or on your desk at work. Practice the rule of “out of sight, out of mind”; you may be reaching for junk food out of boredom and not even realize you’re doing it. The calories and sugar adds up quickly and can deter you from reaching your weight loss goals, or maintaining the weight you have reached during your diet.

     Take breaks throughout your day. If you are working and feel stressed, stand up and take a couple minutes to breathe deeply, stretch, and take a short exercise break. This can help you avoid boredom and lulls in energy levels that may cause you to crave a sugary snack or drink to boost your energy level. Walk around the outside of the building you work in, or even down the hall. Have some small hand weights nearby, or do leg lifts in your chair. Spread these quick breaks throughout the day to keep yourself from feeling the need to snack mindlessly on junk foods and actually get healthier instead.

     These are just a few different ways to help you avoid mindless eating. Enlist the help of a work buddy or family member to follow some of them together, which will help you and others around you live a healthier lifestyle. During all stages of the ITG Diet, you will find that these tips can be a lifesaver and will keep you from derailing your diet. Stay on track to a happier, healthier you!


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