If you’ve ever reached for ice cream and finished the carton without thinking about it, you’ve participated in mindless eating. The dangers of mindless eating can result in overconsumption of calories and subsequent weight gain. Yet, like any bad habit, you can replace mindless eating with mindful eating to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The first step to mindful eating is understanding the difference between mindless eating vs. mindful eating.

Mindless Eating

Mindless eating is eating as a response to an emotion, most often associated with stress, nervousness, loneliness, and boredom. Mindless eating is like eating on autopilot – you’re not thinking about eating, you’re letting your emotions take over and you eat whether you are hungry or not.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is eating for necessity, to fulfill your appetite in a way that is synced with the mind-body connection. You only eat when you’re hungry, and are completely present. You are aware of the taste, smell, and experience you are having. You are in control of what and how much you are eating, and are less likely to binge.

One technique to implement mindful eating is the HALT technique by Harvard Medical School.

Before eating, ask yourself the following questions:

H – Am I feeling hungry?

A – Am I feeling angry?

L – Am I feeling lonely?

T – Am I feeling tired?

If the answer is yes to any of the latter three questions, pivot your actions with a different response to replace eating. Drink a glass of water, go for a walk, or call a friend.

Continue to cultivate a mindful eating approach by reviewing your daily meals, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are my snacks and meals healthy?
  2. Are any of my snacks and meals based on emotions? Energy levels? Convenience? Environment?
  3. If yes, what can I do to change this?

Remember to eat with intention and pay attention, and you will unlock the key to mindful eating.