Mindless Eating – Month 2 Week 3

“The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on” – Brian Wansink

There is an entire selection of books on mindful eating. My personal favorite is Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. There is a book and workbook that will guide you through the principles of intuitive or mindful eating. Since I am not promoting any diet or any particular way of life, if you think this is something you would enjoy you should read it. What this book helped me figure out was what triggered me to eat. What cues played in my brain that would just set me off towards the fridge to grab something, anything. I will say the workbook is not for the faint of heart. I started and stopped the workbook several times because I honestly wasn’t ready to deal with my own shit. What happened is I somehow kept getting drawn back to it and realized there was a lesson I needed to learn.

If you thought I was about to share that lesson, nope. Remember earlier I mentioned it much easier to talk about what you are doing instead of what you aren’t, or what you should be doing. That’s what we are about to talk about this week. I could go on and on about intuitive eating, but you have no concept of what that is. What you do know about is mindless eating and if I’m gauging correctly most of you are pros at it. We mindlessly eat while watching tv, working, reading, or some other task that lets us have a free hand to use to shovel food in our faces. I’m going to spend a little time talking about mindless eating while watching tv since I believe that was a huge source of my problem. Total disclaimer- I watch too much tv. I binge watch Netflix like everyone else. I binge watch stuff I’ve saved on my DVR. You actually will rarely see me watching life tv. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is I don’t have patience for commercials and I want to fast forward. The second reason is commercials are sent from the food devils I’ve decided. This is not a real thing “food devils” so please don’t Google it.

There are a few shows that I watch live when they come on. All the NCIS series and anything that comes on after NCIS. I have no idea what it is about that series but they get me every time. I need to know what’s going on and I’m glued to the tv. I think its because they remind of of the older versions of Law and Order. The new Law and Order does nothing for me, maybe because I miss Jack McCoy. Plus I generally have an obsession with crime shows and anything that will eventually lead me to a killer I never suspected. The problem with this need to know addiction is I end up watching live, thus watching commercials. NCIS starts at 8pm on the East Coast. So I get myself ready for three hours of great tv, then I’m usually off to bed. This is where the problem comes in, test my theory if you don’t believe me.

Every commercial break there is an ad about food. It may be an ad about a food you need to try, a restaurant you need to go to, or lately the grocery store party you need to go be a part of. The newest grocery store ads in my area are these fun loving characters who are dancing in the store because the prices are so low. They ironically are dancing to a song that was originally talking about strippers who wore “apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur”. I would have loved to be in the room when the announcement of given regarding this song. I honestly would just like to see the Black peoples faces as the snippet played and the presentation was given. I’m guessing they stopped it right before the lyric came on “She turned around and gave that big booty a smack”. Sorry I digress.

My point is there are approximately four commercial breaks during a one hour show. To be fair we need to add the commercials before the show and after the show. That takes us to a total of six commercial breaks. Commercial breaks are about four minutes long give or take so with some quick math of six times four I end up watching 24 minutes of commercials for my hour long television show. If I watch three hours of tv we would only add the extra commercial at the beginning and end of my three hours stint, so that’s a total of 20 commercial breaks for a total of 80 minutes of commercials. I promise you this is the most math you will every see on my blog. There is a point to all these calculations. That is 80 minutes of someone trying to sell us something. that is over one hour of commercials for my three hour tv binge. There is usually at least one car commercial, one insurance commercial, one new drug commercial, and then there is food. Lots and lots of food.

For a person trying not to eat this becomes a nightmare. Even if you are full because you’ve just had a very nutritious meal and maybe even a snack how can you resist. They tell you about pizza, burgers, tacos, and chocolate you should try. Everyone looks to be having such a great time while eating. You also may see a diet commercial during this time, but pay close attention. Even in the diet commercials there is food. Weight Watchers shows you people eating gooey pizza. Nurtisystem show you people eating lasagna and chocolate cake. There is a reason for this. They are appealing to your desire to eat food and “enjoy it”. The problem is at 8pm I’m not getting ready to go out and enjoy food. I’m going to go downstairs and grab food I have. Currently there are several commercials with actors/celebrities eating chips. While you may not have the nice house, and the fancy clothes you do have the chips. Your brain for one quick seconds goes “hey I want chips”. Think that doesn’t happen? Think about the last food craving you had and why you had that craving. Go head, I’ll wait.

If you are stronger than most you can survive the food craving during the three hour stint, but advertisers then hit you with the one two punch. Towards the end of the night they no longer show food commercials about stuff you can eat now. They begin to show you commercials about what you can eat tomorrow. The commercials change from dinner to snacks, to breakfast. Don’t believe me? Turn to any channel and watch tv between 8pm-11pm. Let me know what channel you’re watching and what commercials you’ve seen. I’ve been hooked watching and HGTV binge and saw that same commercials I would see watching NCIS. The only difference is they pepper in a few Home Depot commercials.

What we have to realize is its their job to make us buy what they are selling. We don’t have a chance people. The deck is stacked against you. The only way to level the playing field is to have a plan, and I am going to tell you my plan. I plan to eat. I plan to snack. I know I’m going to fall victim so I don’t even try to fight. I have no willpower left at 8pm and I’m not trying to lie to myself and act like I will. Instead of mindlessly eating I mindfully pick a snack. If I want sweet I eat an apples with peanut butter and chocolate chips. If I want salty I have a mini bag of popcorn. If I want cake (cake gets its own category) I have a small piece already cut and on a plate ready to go. I usually make it through the 8pm hour, but around 9:15-9:30 is when the craving hits. I take myself downstairs and eat my snack. I would love to tell you I’m too lazy to go downstairs and get the snack, but that would be a lie. The only change I made in this whole situation was to be ready to eat. I didn’t believe that I could outsmart the advertisers. They are very good at what they do. What I did was acknowledge the sell and substitute it with something I already had on hand.

The key for this to work for you is to already have something ready. If you just go rummaging through your kitchen you are going to eat what you find. I typically find chips and Little Debbie cakes. When I plan a snack in advance I have no excuse to eat something else. I eat what I had planned. What’s great is if I am strong enough to not eat the snack, guess what? The snack is there for tomorrow when I battle the “food devils” again.

It would be easy for me to tell you to stop watching tv. We are in a pandemic. I’m not going to tell you to do much of anything. What I am going to tell you is be honest with yourself and have a plan in place. We have enough going on to not have to worry about getting sucked into buying crap food because the commercial told us too.

I lost my one pound this week. Maybe it was the extra calories I burned running up and down the stairs to get snacks. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t eat any more Hershey Nuggets. Whatever it was it got me semi back on track, and for that I was grateful. All we can do during this process is continue to make tiny changes to get us towards our goal. What snack are you going to have ready this week?

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