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Thinking About Eating

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Chrystal Hedges

Most New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances or healthier nutrition and exercise habits. By the end of January, if not sooner, most of us have failed at keeping a resolution or have already abandoned the dreams of accomplishing one.

When we feel that sense of failure, we quickly give up and move on, feeling defeated and disappointed. But there is nothing to say we can’t get back on the horse and try another strategy to fulfill that resolution.  

When it comes to nutrition resolutions, we often set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations, which can be self-defeating.

We tell ourselves that everything we put in our mouths should be healthy, but that will never be reality. Even the most health-conscious person doesn’t only eat healthy food.

So why do we put those expectations on ourselves and attempt to change our eating habits overnight?

Most of us eat mindlessly. We grab and go. The relationship we have with food is deeply seated in habits we create around food.

In his research, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., found that the average person makes more than 200 decisions about food every single day. That means there are more than 200 times we can fail at meeting our unrealistic expectation of always eating healthy.

What ups the ante are all those decisions we make about food without even noticing. We just choose and go on without much thought.

So, when setting a nutrition goal, the first step we should take is not to pick the diet we want to pay for or participate in, but to become aware and better understand how we make decisions about eating
— both consciously and subconsciously.

Here are some of the questions we can ask yourself to discover steps to be more mindful about the decisions we make:

  • Am I eating for pleasure, hunger or health?
  • Am I aware of any situations or emotions that trigger me to want to eat when I’m not hungry?
  • How often do I feel like eating?
  • Can I tell if I’m hungry?
  • Can I tell if I’m full?
  • What do I eat in a typical day?
  • How do I eat? Do I eat while I’m distracted (e.g., watching television, driving, working, etc.)?
  • How do I typically feel when I’m done eating?

As you inventory the answers to the questions above, we will identify small changes that can lead to big differences in eating habits and our overall relationship with food.

To learn more about Brian Wansink's research, read his best-selling book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

Want to learn more about minful eating? Read the 2014 Am I Hungry? article, "It's Not Just What You Eat, But Why," by Dr. Michelle May.

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Chrystal Hedges

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Chrystal Hedges received her Bachelor's of Science degree from St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Oklahoma and received her Master's of Public Health in Health Promotion Sciences from OU Health Sciences Center. She has ten and a half years of experience working in the public health arena promoting and advocating for health and well-being in various capacities. Her current role as a well-being program coordinator is to provide state employees and their families with information and opportunities to learn, grow and enrich their lives for the better. Her passion and advocacy for health and well-being has led her to one of the most important roles in her life, serving as a foster and adoptive parent. Ms. Hedges has been a foster parent for 5 years and currently has two foster children and two adoptive children.