Ever notice yourself wandering into the kitchen, opening the pantry, and grabbing a handful of crackers or cereal—without even noticing what you're doing? Or do you ever catch yourself eating chocolate chips out of the bag when, really, you were going to the kitchen for a drink of water instead? This happens to all of us. The mindless eater in us can surface anywhere and at any time, but it most often rears its ugly head in our food headquarters—the kitchen.
The term "Mindless Eating" was coined by a Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink, author of the book, Mindless Eating. His book explains how food psychology and the food environment influence when, where, and how much people eat. There are countless environmental cues, such as a candy jar on an office desk, an open potato chip bag on the counter, or a McDonalds commercial on TV that can lead you to eat when you're not hungry.
We are all born mindful eaters. This is why our babies and small children have no problem leaving food on their plate or in their bowl. After about the age of 4 or 5, though, we shift from trusting only our internal cues to eat, to being influenced by external cues, as well. If you allow yourself to mindlessly eat often, unwanted weight can creep on and negative health issues can ensue. Some of these cues you cannot control, in which case you need to learn how to control your actions and tune into your natural hunger cues instead. But to make it easier to eat mindfully (instead of mindlessly), it's best to start by controlling your surroundings, such as your house, your desk, or your car. By removing mindless eating cues wherever possible, you're cutting out unneeded calories without realizing it and learning to trust your natural hunger cues more.
A great place to start is your kitchen. Here are five quick and easy ways to transform your kitchen into a healthy haven instead of a mindless eating trap: