Much of your eating is actually on auto-pilot – you eat without thinking or appreciating the food. This way, you miss much of the pleasure of food and also end up eating more than you need.
Think back to the last time you dipped into a box of popcorn at the movies. Do you recall how many you had? Did you taste each piece of popcorn? Did you stop dipping into the box when you stopped being hungry or did you stop only when the box was empty?
The food diary will help you to establish the patterns in your eating.
Sonia loved stir-fried chicken. Every night after she came back from work, she’d make four pieces of her favourite dish, which she liked to eat while watching a daily soap.
With some guidance about this automatic eating pattern, she began eating while doing nothing else, counting each bite. She averaged 10 bites, of which the first 3 were delicious, followed by four bites when she paid very little attention to what was going into her mouth. The final 3 bites were good again, because she was nearly finished. With mindful eating, Sonia decided that the middle 4 bites were calories she did not need.
Things to be aware of when looking for patterns in your eating
- When are you likely to eat? A typical eating pattern can be: you eat very little for breakfast, more at lunch, followed by a very calorie-heavy afternoon snack and dinner.
- How much are you eating? Are there instances where you eat a given amount of food without giving much thought to how much you need to stop being hungry?
- What are you eating? Are there specific foods you eat again and again? Are high-calorie foods frequently finding their way onto your plate?
- Where do you eat? Are these frequently places that are not your kitchen or dining area?
- Do you eat when you are anxious, angry, bored, sad or lonely? If you are seeing a pattern, it’s a sign that you need to learn better ways to cope with difficult feelings.
- What do you do when you eat? Many people watch TV, browse, listen to music. Doing things other than eating while having your food can distract you from noticing the taste of your food, or noticing when you are full.