Is Mindless Eating Destroying Your Health?

Mindless Eating vs. Mindful Eating

Do you know the difference?

Which do you think best describes your eating habits?

Mindfulness is a familiar word and has become a way of life for many.

The most renowned voice on the subject, Jon Kabat Zinn, describes it as:  “Mindfulness is an awareness that arises through paying attention…in the service of self-understanding and wisdom, ” 

Time Magazine even published a special edition dedicated to the topic: Time Magazine 2017 Special Edition:: MINDFULNESS the New Science of Health and Happiness.

And yet, applying the principle of mindfulness to eating has not yet taken hold. Far too many continue to be “mindless eaters.”

Which Are You?

Below is a checklist to help you answer that question.

It will only take a minute to go through each list and identify which one describes your eating habits.

Mindless Eating or Mindful Eating

Let’s go a little deeper!

Mindless eating occurs when you eat quickly, completely unaware of what you are eating (nor do you care). You shovel it in without thinking about the food, how much you are eating, how it tastes (good or bad), or if it is satisfying your hunger. Maybe eating is nothing more than a necessity for you.

It is often driven by stress or feelings like anger, sadness, loneliness, relationship issues, boredom, frustration, etc. If you find yourself frequently thinking about food or standing in front of the fridge when you are not hungry, you are probably a mindless eater.

To sum it up – you eat without an awareness of when, where, how much, or what you are eating – and it is dangerous for your health.

Even though it is easy to use food as an escape – to unwind and unravel when life throws you curves – it is a dangerous habit that affects your physical and emotional health and can eventually take your life if you are unwilling to change.

You are not the only one facing this challenge.

Mindless eating is common in the U.S. because of the fast-paced, high-stress world we live in.  It is easy to go on autopilot living – including eating.

Research shows that you make over 200 food-related choices daily but are unaware of all but 10% to 15% of those choices. Food has become a necessity with little thought given to the flavors, textures, how much you are eating, or even why you are eating.

Research shows that you may have lost the ability to notice and follow signals of hunger and satiety, which causes you to continuously overeat and never feel satisfied.

Mindless Eating - What do you want?

The Dangers

Mindless eating in the U.S. is driven by an overabundance of food, jumbo-sized orders, oversized dinner plates, binge-eating, the attitude that more is better, etc., which results in weight gain and is the leading cause of obesity in the U.S.

Obesity often leads to high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and hormonal imbalances.

According to the CDC, obesity is a common, serious, and costly disease.

  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.

  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.

You may be considered obese without realizing it – many people are. It’s easy to think that you are just carrying around a few extra pounds.

But, if your BMI is 25 – 29, you are overweight and if it is 30+, you are obese and at risk for all the dangers that carries. Check your BMI here.

It’s Time for a Change!

If you have fallen into the easy trap of mindless eating and the pounds are piling up or have reached a dangerous level, it is time for a change!

A good option to consider is to embrace mindful eating as your new way of life. Slow down, pay attention to what you are eating, choose healthy, nutritious foods, and enjoy every bite. It will make a significant difference in your health – and can add years to your lifespan.

 

Will the siliver lining of the pandemic hold?

Robert Glazer recently wrote in his Friday Forward Blog.       

        In time, we’ll see many silver linings come from this crisis [the Covid- 19 Pandemic 2020]. One of the biggest is that this will compel us to reevaluate which relationships deserve our time and energy, and which obligations are not worth our time.

The Cloud's Silver Lining
Image: Daniel Pascoa  @ Unsplash

I hope this is true.  I hope that the possibility of a better world will become our reality. It would be a tremendous blessing for all of us, but I wonder . . .

This is my 83rd year and twice before in my lifetime I believed things would be different going forward as the result of a specific life situation.

The first was in 1963. I was newly married and enjoying motherhood for the first time. My husband and I were living in Madrid, Spain – loving life, especially the slow pace of the Spanish culture. I remember thinking,

         I will never get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of life in the U.S. when we return.  I will live my life in the same unhurried way that we enjoy here. There is no reason to live a harried lifestyle. It is important to savor the moment and appreciate life to its fullest regardless of where we live.

I believed with all my heart that the slow and lovely lifestyle would be possible. I promised myself it would be so. 

Who was I kidding?

When we returned home, the delightfully relaxed life we enjoyed in Spain quickly changed, and the frenetic effort to ‘get ahead’ took over! Our life experience in that lovely country became no more than a sweet memory.

We joined the rat race once again and ultimately became a divorce statistic along with so many others of my generation . . . and life went on.

The second was September 11, 2001, the world as we had known it changed. 

Over 3000 people died in the attack on America by Osama Ben Laden and his terrorist regime. The country came to a standstill as we mourned the loss of so many and realized the safety we had always taken for granted as Americans living in America was no longer our reality. 

We came together as a country in a way that hadn’t happened since the end of WWII (1945). We vowed, as a nation, “to never forget.”  We believed that we would stand united once again and be better because of the tragedy . . . but  . . . we did forget, and far too quickly.

Today, in May of 2020, we find ourselves in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, a country so politically divided that a civil dialogue among our political leaders is impossible. There is so much hatred demonstrated, and vitriolic language used when speaking about our President that I continually wonder what happened to respect for the office and common decency to a fellow human being.

We are constantly bombarded with untruths and fake news on every subject through TV, online news, and social media to the extent that I trust nothing that I hear or read. I doubt I am alone in that. 

What happened to us as a society? Where did our humanity go?  How did we forget?

I want to believe that the silver lining of the pandemic will hold – that we will spend more time with our families and connect with our friends and not return to the busyness that has devoured our humanity over the past 19 years. 

I want to believe that . . .

  • people will care about and respect each other again.
  • self-absorption and hatred of anyone who disagrees with an opinion will no longer be the norm.
  • trust, acceptance of differences, interesting/pleasant conversations, and laughter will abound.
  • honest, ethically driven leaders will rise to the top and bring our wonderful country back to the land of the free and the brave.
  • united families and communities will become our reality.

Is it possible to create a better world?

The answer is yes, if we make it so. Let’s reach for the silver lining buried in this terrible crisis.

Every change begins with one step by one person, then another, and another.

Are you willing to take the first step and continue on the path to creating a different and better world?  To realize the promise of the silver lining?

Am I?

Only time will tell.

I hope and pray with all my being that we can and that we will do it together.  

 

Related Articles: 

How Are You Dealing with Social Distancing?  

Hope Is the Bird that Sings

 

Hope is the Bird That Sings

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tunes without words and never stops at all.”
— Emily Dickinson

Hope if the thing - when the bird sings
Image by: ryk-naves-b_-KVgWg_YM-unsplash

This is a beautiful message that I wanted to share with alll of you. (Reprinted with permission from Whitney Johnson – WLJAdvisors.)

I was twenty-one years old and freshly arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, from the United States.

For the next 18 months I wasn’t going to see my family or friends––,we would communicate via letter only, except for a phone call home on Christmas and Mother’s Day. I’d chosen to come to this far-flung place as a missionary, but reality was setting in. Jet-lagged and homesick, I opted for a nap.

I was roused from my slumber sooner than I would’ve liked to discover something wonderful was happening outside my bedroom window. Birds were chirping—not just one or two, but dozens—a grand welcoming chorus. I’d left winter at home; in Uruguay it was spring.

“Hope is the thing…that perches in the soul.”

Over the past few months, I’ve had to make choices. We’re all having to make choices about what future world we want to build out of the rubble of the present.

Will we choose to give up, give in to existential despair, or will we choose hope that in the end all will be well. That spring will come again?

To be clear, there are different kinds of hope. And some ‘hopes’, we would do well to relinquish. Hope that present circumstances would suddenly be different, that bad things that have happened hadn’t happened. These are really wishes, and unfulfillable. As Beverly Flanigan said, “Forgiveness is giving up hope of ever having a better past.” 

The past can’t be changed, only our perspective of it. And some of our proximate hopes, things we anticipated rolling our way in the near future, need to be abandoned as well, in favor of longer term, ultimate hopes.

Because as much as we need hope, we don’t need false hope. Which is the subject of this week’s podcast, an interview with Kelly Goldsmith (yes, daughter of one of my wonderful mentors!). I find the conclusions of her research refreshing and helpful during a time of limited resources, and pronounced feelings of scarcity.

Kelly suggests that scarcity itself isn’t the issue, but the absence of hope. When we know that something is truly gone—the boyfriend isn’t coming back, the money is lost, life as we’ve known it has permanently changed—we can mourn the loss and then lean into the constraint that has been created to grow in a different direction. Ironically, it’s when we’re still clinging to unrealizable hopes, uncertain, that we feel scarcity and those feelings become problematic.

People crave certainty, which is hard to come by, but if it’s certain that something is gone and not coming back, it’s better to face it. That’s loss, not scarcity, and when we know something is truly lost we can move on, rather than compensating in ultimately self-defeating ways. If there is hope, let people feel hope. If there isn’t, don’t string people along, inadvertently creating scarcity, thinking it’s kinder. It’s not.

Are you allowing people to feel hope about something that you shouldn’t?

Are you trapped in futile hope for a better past that you need to free yourself from?

What are you willing/able to choose to do to help build a more hopeful future?

Maybe it’s continuing to social (physical) distance when you’ve grown weary of distancing. Or thinking about not only the financial implications, but the long-term public health implications of the virus? Is it extending yourself, providing work for others, when you’d rather save your money for you and yours? Or even finding ways to serve, not necessarily where you want to serve, but where you’re needed?

Then there are the small things you can do. The delicate, little live things. Picking mint from the garden, putting it in a Mason jar with water and lots of ice. Washing dishes with your family after a home-cooked meal. Pushing open the window to listen to the birdsong. Whenever I hear the song of a bird, my heart sings with hope.

In your moments when you want to give up—even just a little—what can you do to rekindle hope? What gives you hope?

 

How are you dealing with social distancing?

Social Distancing - Stay Home Sign
Image by Logan Weaver @Unsplash

I am not looking forward to another month of social distancing (quarantine), or even another day.

How about you? How are you doing?

Are you sad, worried, afraid, or all of that, and more?

The whole idea of social distancing goes against human nature. We are wired to be touched from birth until the day we die. There is even a condition known as touch deprivation that can have serious and long-lasting negative effects on health.

But . . . for now . . .  we must practice social distancing to protect ourselves and others from the virus, regardless of how much we hate it .

The lucky ones are people with families who have each other to fill the need for human touch, but many are alone and isolated. I happen to be one of those.

I’m surviving, but forced isolation is not fun!

I’m stuck on an emotional roller coaster ride from which I cannot escape. The uncertainty of how long the isolation will last intensifies my anxiety.

Sometimes I’m OK and can accept that this is a situation over which I have no control. I use my time productively to research and write; then, suddenly – I’m not OK. The walls close in and I wander through a quagmire of fear and doubt, wishing this would all go away. I question if I will make it through unscathed and worry about catching the virus and dying alone.

It’s a relief when I can shake the depression, pull myself together, and become productive again but, I know it’s only a matter of time until I fall into the worry pit for the umpteenth time.

Up and down – up and down – It is not a fun ride.

Have You Discovered the Gift?

During these long, uncertain days and possibly weeks or months ahead, I hope that all of you who are lucky enough to be confined with loved ones will realize that you have been given a wonderful gift – extended time with the most important people in your life.

I encourage you to use the time wisely.

It is the perfect opportunity to do things together that make everyone smile, to get to know each other in ways that your previously busy lives didn’t allow,  to enjoy long quiet talks about hopes and dreams, to hold them close, and to let them know how grateful you are that you are together.

What About the Not so Fortunate?

Let’s get out of our heads by helping people who are alone. They may be family members (mom/dad, grandmother/grandfather, aunt/uncle, cousin), friend or work colleague, or neighbor.

Social Distancing - Older Man at Door
Image by Andre Ouellet@unsplash

We can’t visit physically, so it will require some creativity to findways to lessen their feelings of being cut off from the world. One thing we can do is to check-in every few days; let them know we are thinking about them.

Texting is better than no contact but, let’s be more personal – use facetime, or have a group gathering via ZOOM or SKYPE. Spend quality virtual time. Talk about anything and everything – laugh and have fun.

If they are on the same emotional roller coaster I am on, knowing that someone is there for them can be a critical factor in how they deal with this horrific challenge.

Social Distancing Is Not New!

As I thought about what to say in this post, it occurred to me that we have been practicing social distancing for some time without realizing it. The busyness epidemic, our obsession with technology, and the practice of communicating primarily through texting have separated us by choice. We have lost sight of the fact that we need human touch to remain mentally and physically at our best. Man (or woman) was not meant to be alone.

Realizing the deep-seated need for regular human connection and physical contact may be the silver lining in this terrible dark cloud that has descended on the world. It is a chance to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to each other again – to reach out physically – to hug and hold those we love – to get back in the habit of talking face-to-face with family, friends, and neighbors – to be kind, caring, and respectful toward others, and to come out of this darkness into a better world.

We can start today by holding close the loved ones in our homes and supporting those who are alone.

Social distancing may be required, but emotional distancing is not!

We have the power to make a difference in many lives by holding each other close.

Be safe – stay well!

Nancy

Quote of the Day

Don’t Be Rude When You Can Be Kind!

What happened to common courtesy and dood manners?

They used to be the norm – but, are now practically non-existent.

When I observe simple acts of kindness and respectful behavior it is almost startling because it is such a rare experience.

The anonymity of social media seems to have created a breeding pool for poor behavior that is spilling over into daily actions for the majority.

Being on the receiving end of rude behavior is extremely unpleasant – so, let’s not be guilty of the ones who are being rude.

It’s Time to Dust Off Your Manners

Don't be rude - Good manners show respect

There is no excuse for being rude and disrespectful. It is selfish and immature behavior that reflects a complete lack of concern for anyone except yourself.

My theory is that rude behavior begins at home. When children are allowed to be rude and disrespectful to family members (including their parents), it becomes a way of life when dealing with people in any situation. It’s the only behavior they know.

It’s time to change!

Unfortunately, we cannot control others’ behavior, but we can control our own.

You and I can choose to be kind and courteous to others – family, friends, associates, colleagues, clerks, service agents, and strangers. YES, I’m talking about EVERYONE.

Being polite and showing respect for others will never go out of style (maybe buried under a pile of “you know what”) – but never lost unless people accept perpetual rudeness as a way of life.

Respectful behavior that is fueled by kindness is the foundation of a good life and a joyful society.

. . . and it starts with you and me dusting off our manners and displaying common courtesy even single day.

To pique your memory, I have compiled a list of common courteous behaviors from years past. They are not difficult to perform, but if they are not currently part of your behavioral patterns, it may take time and practice for them to become automatic, as they should be.

  • Get in the habit of saying please and thank you!
  • Say hello and goodbye when entering and leaving a room or group of people.
  • Stop swearing in public.
  • Say, “I’m sorry” when you bump into someone.
  • When meeting someone for the first time, smile and introduce yourself.
  • Give an elderly or handicapped person, or pregnant lady your seat on the bus or subway.
  • Cover your mouth when you yawn, sneeze, cough, burp, etc. and say, “Excuse me.”
  • Put your phone away in public! Don’t text or scroll through messages while walking, driving, or during a face-to-face conversation with someone. Phones should be used when you are sitting/standing alone and you will not disturb anyone else.
  • Hold the door open for those behind you or for anyone who may need help.

Let the other person enter the building, the room or the elevator first.

  • Promptly R.S.V.P to any invitation.
  • Send thank-you notes (preferably handwritten) for dinner parties, gifts, etc.
  • Acknowledge and accept differences of opinions (even on social media) – acknowledgment is not agreement.

Introductions

Don't be rude - say hello politely
Credit-phototechno-iStock

  • Always introduce people to each other.
  • Make introductions immediately
  • When you are being introduced, listen carefully and remember names.
  • Respond – “It’s nice to meet you.”
  • Ask a question to let them know you are interested in who they are.
  • When leaving, say, “It’s nice to have met you.”

Polite Conversation

  • When someone says hello – smile and say hello back (or be the first to say it)
  • Listen attentively without interrupting – let the other person finish before you speak.
  • Be kind and respectful in your response to others.
  • Consider all opinions – you don’t have to agree, but be willing to listen.
  • Respond to questions with kindness and respect.

These are only a sampling of good manners. There is so much more but these are a good place to start.

Model the behavior you would like to see in your children and would enjoy when in the company of others.

We usually get back what we put out into the world. Let’s start putting out kindness and respect! That is today’s challenge! 

Are you up for it? I hope so.

Related Posts:

From the Reader’s Digest –  50 Little Etiquette Rules You Should Always Practice

Eat Well – Be Well – Live Well

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