Do you suffer from mindless eating? When you reach for food that you know you shouldn’t have and when you might not even be hungry, but you eat it anyways? It is at these times that we should be asking ourselves, “Am I really hungry or is this just a craving?  Am I bored?  Am I sad? How will eating that make me feel?  Understanding why we reach for food at a certain time is key to breaking habits, and poor eating habits are no exception. It is really about understanding what we actually need versus what we want.

To break a habit, we need to understand why we make certain decisions and how that makes us feel. When we feel bad or sad, the brain will remind us that eating can make us feel good.  Eating a piece of cake can make us feel good (for a short period).  When we are bored, our brain tells us that eating is not boring.  Mapping out our eating habits to display when and why we are eating is the first step.  Once we understand the why, find a replacement reward to change the brain reaction.  Instead of reaching for a candy, eat a handful of berries or a bit of dark chocolate.

Reflection is also important.  When a craving hits, take a moment to ask yourself how you felt after eating the whole pizza, or pint of ice cream the last time this craving hit.  Remembering the feeling of a bloated gut and general physical discomfort can be a key step in finding a better reward.  Taking the time to remember this can cause the brain to change its reward patterns.

Turn your mindless eating habits into a thoughtful mindful exercise to help manage your cravings.