Mindless Eating: It’s Just That SIMPLE!

By: Janine Serio


According to David Rock, author of “Your Brain At Work,” our “conscious thinking activities are all intensive users of the prefrontal cortex of our brain.” Not only small but it has limited energy too; think of it like a battery. The more and more we use it, the quicker it loses power. As the “battery” depletes, the quality of our thinking, decision making, and, ultimately, willpower decreases as well.

Naturally, willpower is higher in the morning and slowly diminishes as the day goes on. Believe it or not, we use the same mental energy when deciding “if we should have grilled chicken or salmon on our salad” as we do when crunching numbers at the office to make a business deal happen. Yes, one seems more mentally taxing than the other BUT, however you look at it, IT is all being processed through the same part of the brain.

This insight was extremely valuable, especially when applying it to the phenomenon of mindless eating. It is no wonder that so many of us struggle with this. It is no wonder we are constantly playing the “yo-yo dieting” game. If you couple restrictive (i.e. deprivation), obsessive food behaviors, along with all of the other decisions we have to make, and mental energy we use throughout the day, we, inadvertently, set ourselves up for failure. Hello, we are sabotaging our own efforts!

This week, we challenge you to answer 2 questions:

  1. What is going to get me the BEST results without too much time, energy, and thought needing to be put into it? Basically, how to get the BEST results without “draining the battery?”
  2. What can I do, consistently, and effortlessly, everyday, that is realistic, sustainable, goal-oriented, and decreases the urge to “binge my way to bed.”

Trust me, this is not as hard as it may seem (or even feel) at first. This is, especially, true if you follow our “SIMPLE” approach. These easy steps will help you to “ease up” on your mental energy, while increasing your decision making and willpower #backincontrol

Start Small: Too many changes all at once will only lead you back to where you started (and then some). Let’s focus on what is going to lay your foundation. What are 2-3 easy, “cornerstone” nutritional approaches that are not only healthy but are realistic for your lifestyle, sustainable on a daily basis, and will give you the satisfaction, needed, to not be raiding the cabinets all day long? Here is an example of my daily 3:

  1. Consume a protein and a healthy fat (most of the time) at every meal.
  2. Each of my meals will consume an ample amount of vegetables, whether in the form of a salad, sides, or blended in a smoothie.
  3. Drink lots of water, preferably 100 oz. if possible (minimally 75 oz.)

Integrate & Investigate: Now that you have committed to your 2-3 cornerstones, slowly start to integrate them into your daily routine. Use your biofeedback signals (i.e. hunger, energy, cravings, digestion, sleep, etc.) as research into “what works” and “what needs tweaking.” Going back to the examples I gave you above, it has been through lots of trial and error that I have come to realize a “diet” higher in protein, healthy fat, and lots of fibrous veggies helps keep me satisfied and decreases my urge for junk. This has become automated for me; no more stressing about what to eat. And, yes, I most definitely eat lots of other foods besides what I mentioned. If I want a slice of pizza, I make sure to have a salad with some protein on it. Satisfaction high and deprivation low!

Movement: 3-4 days per week of short, intense exercise – think lifting heavy weights and sprinting – for no longer than 30 minutes, are an effective means to get leaner, quicker, and decrease the feeling of hunger and cravings. This, coupled with days of rest and relaxation, and daily leisurely walks , will not only help physically but mentally as well. This week’s workout is giving you the best of both worlds – heavy lifting along with varying degrees of sprints. CLICK HERE to for full access.

Prepare: Life happens and, sometimes, I just can’t get as much protein or veggies in at a given meal as I would like. The worst – when I get beyond the point of hunger and the ravenous pit in my stomach starts setting in. This is where the wheels can easily come off the track. While THESE kinds of days are few and far between, I do make sure to keep some emergency provisions within arms reach. These help take the edge off until I can get in a “real meal” and not be head first into the bag of potato chips.  Some of my “go-to’s” include my favorite protein bars (RxBars, Oatmgea, Quest), mixed nuts (almond, cashew, and/or Brazil), hardboiled eggs, coffee with cream (morning), or a glass of wine (late afternoon). While I am not advocating consuming a “beverage only” go-to, these do work in a pinch! We have many clients who will reach for beef jerkey or even a piece or two of dark chocolate. Again, these are by no means “perfect” (that is a myth anyway) but it certainly beats the alternative.

Listen: I cannot say it enough; you need to constantly be listening to your body. You, and only you, are going to know what feels the best. Just because it is written down on paper does not mean it is your end all. You can have your 3 cornerstone commitments in place, change your workout routine, and seem to be doing everything “right,” but if it is not helping you attain your goals, then how long can you (realistically) expect to continue doing it? This circles back to the investigative process; do not ignore those biofeedback signals. They are your roadmap to getting your hormones balanced, attaining (and maintaining) the physique and lifestyle you have always wanted, and, most importantly, will help in your quest to quit the mindless eating cycle for GOOD.

Enjoy: You are given this one life, with this one body. Honor it; treasure it; cherish it. Be kind to yourself. Don’t miss out on life’s simple pleasures, simply because you are scared to “mess up.” As our mentor and friend Jill Coleman says, “mess up’s are level up’s.” Practice moderation. Learn what it feels like to feel satisfied, not stuffed. Learn what it feels like to not be consuming one continuous meal the moment you walk in the door from work until the moment you go to bed. It will not happen overnight – remember, start small – but the goal is that theses strategies you put into place will be with you for a lifetime!

See, it’s just that SIMPLE! 🙂

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