Have you ever eaten while on auto-pilot? The times when you snack and aren’t consciously aware of it can account for a surprising number of calories. Before long those calories contribute to an expanded waist line. So what’s the answer?
Unconscious consumption is a habit. You can retrain yourself to be fully aware of everything you are eating. With a little bit of strategy you can eliminate the bad habits and build new, healthy ones to replace them.
I’ve been guilty of unconscious eating. I would snack on whatever was on hand paying no attention to the mountains of calories I was consuming. I’d rummage through the refrigerator, munching on snacks as i came across them, all the time looking for more food.
When I finally tried keeping a food journal I found my subconscious rebelling. I would “forget” to write down what I had eaten. I would get lapses in memory and assure myself I had done pretty well that day or week. The scales told a different story. It took a while and some supporting tools and techniques before I mastered the habit of journaling what I ate. Now that I have, things are changing.
I don’t mindlessly rummage for food anymore. The instant I start thinking about eating my new habits kick in and I start thinking about how many calories each snack contains, how many calories I’ve eaten already that day, and what calories remain for the day in my planned meals.
This new way of thinking starts with the simple step of learning to document everything you eat. The rule is simple “If you bite it, write it” but the practice is far more profound and will have a positive impact on your diet and health.
There are three stages you’ll need to completely entrench this new habit into your routine.
1. Setup – you will need to plan for your new habit and establish some reminders to get you moving in the right direction.
2. Execution – this is where you start practicing writing down everything you eat and begin the foundation of the new habit you want to create.
3. Reinforcement – It’s possible for your new habit to fade over time. You’ll need to make sure that occasionally you do a check up to make sure you are keeping your new habit fresh.
New habits can be difficult to form, especially when they are replacing another habit. So, in the beginning you’ll need all the help you can get to keep you on track.
One of the best ways to keep a new habit in mind is to setup some automated reminders. You can do this with your email calendar, your smart phone or whatever other task management tool you use and look at every day. Just setup the task to remind you at regular intervals about your new approach, “Reminder to document all food eaten!”, and then you’ll be getting regular prompts to help you build your new habit.
Also, don’t give yourself an out. Make it easy to write down everything you eat. Decide ahead of time if you’ll be using paper, an app on your smart phone, or your computer to track what you eat. When you plan ahead of time you won’t be caught in indecision when it comes time to record what you’ve eaten.
If you’ve properly completed your setup this step should be a breeze. Follow your prompts. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this frequently. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake and don’t give up.
Soon you’ll have this mastered and be well on your way to an improved diet and healthier life.
As part of your setup you’ll want to plan for regular check ups on your progress. Set these in your calendar to make sure you’re still sticking to your new habit. This stage is your safety net. It will catch you if you’ve let the habit slide for a while and remind you to get back to it.
One of the best things you can do to increase the odds of your weight loss efforts succeeding is to break the unconscious eating habit and replace it with full awareness whenever you eat. Remember, “If you bite it, write it!” and you’ll be well on your way.
Question: How do you track the food you eat?