Why You May Be Eating More Than You Think

pcos and mindless eating

My PCOS nutrition coaching clients often tell me how busy they are, how they have so much to do and how they feel there's not enough hours in the day to do it all. With work, e-mails, errands, events, taking care of a house and others, it's no wonder most women feel overwhelmed and overworked. As a result, eating is done while doing other things like watching TV, e-mailing, driving or cooking. This comes as no surprise as women are the queens of multi-tasking.

However, performing other activities while eating robs you of pleasure and relaxation, and may be causing you to eat more than you think. 


What is Mindless Eating?

Mindless eating occurs when you eat without paying attention to what you are eating. It's like driving down a familiar road for the thousandth time and not remembering whether or not you stopped at all the stop signs. The trip was mindless because your mind was elsewhere. The same can happen with your food. Have you ever been watching TV or driving while you eat and suddenly the food is gone?  Maybe you ate it all and didn’t remember tasting it. Sometimes you don’t know what it looked or smelled like. And of course, you want more food because you didn't enjoy it.


The Problem with Mindless Eating

Women who eat mindlessly do so to distract themselves from food or the fact that they are eating it at all, thereby ignoring any judgments they have about eating.

 Some may eat to distract themselves from what they're feeling. Mary, a client I saw last month, noticed she was engaging in more mindless eating at work than ever before. She admitted to being worried that she may get laid off and that the food gave her a brief escape from her anxiety.  

When your mind is focused on other things, your body has difficulty identifying what your body is experiencing.

 Sometimes your body may need less food but if you don't eat mindfully, you may take in more food than you need. This is when problems with weight management arise. 

Because people are busier than ever before, they may rush through eating and get meals over with only to get on to the next task on the To Do list. Again, if you do this, you miss out on the pleasure and satisfaction of food. On the coast of the island of Maui there is a lengthy road called The Road to Hana, a road that leads to the town of Hana. Some people rush through the drive to get to Hana. Only once they get there they find that Hana is just a small town in a remote part of the island. What do they miss by rushing? Experiencing hundreds of waterfalls, lush vegetation and perhaps the most gorgeous scenery on the planet. The same can be said for rushing through meals--if you don't take the time to focus on what you're eating, you miss out on the pleasure and other experiences food provides.


Becoming a More Mindful Eater

The first step in being a mindful eater is awareness of the food you eat and the sensations you experience.

 To do this, you must eat without distraction. Start by designating one mealtime each day to do nothing else but paying attention to what you eat, how it tastes, feels in your mouth, and the pleasure it may or may not give you. Keep practicing eating mindfully, working up to eating two meals and then three until all your meals are eaten mindfully. You may be surprised to find that you don't really enjoy the food you're eating or really need it all.   

If you have difficulty eating mindfully, The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health  will give you the tools you need to become a more mindful eater.

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