Eating Habits. Are you actually hungry?

Do you find yourself eating for the sake of eating, and you’re not even hungry?

Have you ever been sitting at your office desk, engrossed in a task or watching television whilst eating, then all of a sudden realise that you finished that packet of chips, chocolate or lollies?

Do you have a tendency to socialise over food?

Did your Mum always tell you to finish everything on your plate? Suggesting it would somehow show that you cared for the starving kids in Africa?

Are you in a habit of eating at a set time, eating a set sized meal or eating the same kinds of foods?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be indulging in eating for the wrong reasons, and taking on bad habits.

Eating when we are not hungry is one of the biggest contributors to excess weight gain. We are surrounded by food throughout our day. It’s convenient, tastes great, it’s cheap and it releases dopamine (a feel good neurotransmitter in the brain), which gives us a quick buzz. So it is not surprising that many of us find changing our eating habits quite difficult.

So what causes you to eat when you’re not hungry?  There can be a number of reasons, including:

–       Not paying attention to hunger and fullness signals.

–       Boredom, tiredness or anxiety.

–       Using food as a reward.

–       Simply because the food is there, or having excessive food available (e.g. buffet).

–       Cultural reasons, such as eating at a social event or to avoid offending someone.

–       Mum’s rules – finishing everything on your plate.

–       Unhelpful thoughts such as “I’ve spent money on this” or “its lunch time, I should eat” or “that food is just simply delicious and hard to walk past.”

Here are some simple tips to begin managing eating behaviour nad habits:

1.  Start to notice why you are eating, increase your awareness of your eating behaviours and habits. It is helpful to write it down and review the week to identify patterns.

2.  Look at the way food and meals were viewed in your family when you were growing up. Were there rules or expectations around food?

3.  Make changes to where you eat, make eating an event of its own, slow down and focus on flavour and texture. Don’t eat whilst you are working or watching television.

4.  Become aware of your feelings of hunger throughout the day. How does your body tell you its hungry? How can you tell when you are full? Keep a record.

5.  Look at alternative ways to manage your mood such as going for a walk, talking to a colleague or stopping and taking a break.

6.  Listen to your self-talk and thoughts around food, notice them and see if you can sit without responding to those thoughts.

7.   Accept what, where and when you have eaten and continue to learn from your choices.

If you are having difficulty managing your eating behaviour on your own, we have a team of Clinical Psychologists that specialise in eating behaviour that can assist you to make the required changes. Contact Us today.

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