How many times has boredom, stress or lack of structure caused you to graze mindlessly on food? Most of us at some point have found ourselves rummaging through the fridge or pantry, grabbing whatever it was we could to gratify our appetites — even if we didn’t truly have one.
Grazing is a hard habit to break, especially if you have an emotional connection to food. However, an inward look at your thoughts vs your actions and a commitment to mindful eating can steer you in a healthier direction. Break your grazing patterns with these tips.
Conquering the Desire to Graze
Identify Your Triggers
By themselves, triggers have no power. It’s up to YOU whether or not you act. Next time you find yourself wandering toward food without a true purpose, dig deep to ask yourself why.
Are you stressed from a complication at work? Are you worried about an upcoming event, or have you just had a fight with someone that’s resonating with you? Once you identify what’s triggering you to graze, decide if food is an acceptable solution (hint: it probably isn’t).
Ask Yourself Key Questions
As a follow-up to identifying your triggers, ask yourself these questions before eating: Am I actually hungry? What am I craving? What do I WANT vs what to I actually NEED? Finding the answers may challenge you to divert your attention to something else.
Take Time to ENJOY Your Food
When we graze, we typically shovel food into our mouths without rhyme or reason. In the process, we neglect to savor the taste and truly enjoy the experience of eating. So, if you DO decide to grab a snack, eat slowly and chew each bite to make the most out of it.
Food Has a Purpose — Think about it.
Food can be pleasurable, but it’s really meant to fuel your body and contribute to a full and vibrant life. Is that what a bag of potato chips is doing? What about that bowl of leftover Halloween candy? Remain conscious of your choices and how they affect your body.
Listen to Internal Cues
In most cases, your body should alert you as to when it’s hungry or satisfied. If your stomach is rumbling and you feel weak or fatigued, it’s probably a good time to eat. But if you can’t identify a physical cue, maybe your desire to graze is rooted in something else.
LIVE Your Life
We’re typically tempted to graze when we’re bored, distracted or wanting to avoid some other trigger. To avoid temptation, engage in other activities that enrich your life and aren’t food-centric. Maybe it’s an afternoon hike or a family game night instead of standing around the TV.
Grazing vs Mindful Eating
All of the above tips and strategies employ the tool of mindful eating to help you make better nutrition choices for your health. Yes, you CAN break those habits holding you back! By slowing down to listen to your body and brain, you’ll find that it’s easier to make conscious and healthy choices. Mindful eating, or eating with intention (purpose) and attention (tuning in to the experience) can free you from unhealthy eating cycles.