Mindless Munching


Weight loss requires a delicate and harmonious relationship between both calories consumed and calories expended. There needs to be a deficit in calories to achieve a loss. This unfortunately means that every little thing we put in our mouth does in fact count. Yes, this even includes if you nibbled while standing up tending to your kid’s lunch, talking on the phone with your husband who’s just “so stressed” with work, feeding the family dog AND you didn’t even get the chance to enjoy it! Those harmless two-bite brownies every few hours do add up to something more like the “whole bag-bite brownies”. Even though you’re admittedly the culprit of the missing brownie bites, sometimes you honestly have no recollection of even eating them- let alone an entire bag of them. This habit I often refer to by it’s technical term, “mindless munching.” It can and does happen to the best of us. This type of eating can be the most deadly. For one, we don’t even realize it’s happening. Secondly, it leaves us dissatisfied and needing more.  Hence “whole bag-bite brownies.”

The first preventative measure is to quit purchasing your favorite snacks when grocery shopping just because the rest of your family happens to like it too. I know that unless you’re living alone it’s unrealistic not to have snacks around the house, but what I am suggesting is that you choose your least tempting snacks. More specifically, if your children want ice cream and the bubblegum flavor just doesn’t speak to you, best believe bubblegum it is. If your family is requesting chips and you happen to think barbecue flavor is comparable to dog food, then barbecue chips for everyone! If you fall into the category of having an indiscriminate love for ALL flavors of ice cream and chips, then you can’t be helped.

Kidding, there’s still hope for you too!  Reference the following two steps:

One piece of homework (I call it homework because it’s definitely not fun) that I will ask of my clients to prevent mindless munching is to begin a food journal. This can feel redundant and tedious, but it truly works. It forces us to be accountable for every little bite we’re putting in our mouth. Big or small.  There is greater weight to every food choice you make when you’re required to record it. You’ll think twice about whether the two cookies, a spoonful of ice cream and three pieces of cheese are worth mucking up your otherwise wonderful day of healthy eating. Moreover, it forces you to notice how many extra empty calories you’ve been consuming per day. It’s always better to be aware than pretending it didn’t count just because it was a few bites here and there (the average cute timbit has a whopping 70 calories). Sure that doesn’t seem like a lot, but who really eats only one timbit!?

Lastly, you need to assess why you’re having the urge to constantly pick and nibble. Why are you finding yourself revisiting the pantry/fridge every 30 minutes to size up what will be your next mini indulgence? The common answer to this is that you haven’t given yourself permission to appropriately address your craving.  When you take a bite here or a small handful there and pop it in your mouth without acknowledgment, it doesn’t allow you to process that you had enough of what you’re craving. The superior option is always to select a small serving of whatever you’re really craving, have a seat and savor each flavour with a cup of tea than it is to  graze all day.  Stop eating unconsciously and become present in your eating choices, all of them.  Trade in “mindless munching” for “mindful munching” and cash in those banked calories when it’s a matter of necessity- like Friday night’s therapeutic glass of Pinot grigio.

  • Steffi G.

    This is actually sooo accurate. You are totally right, the snacks (licorice, caramels, timbits) the courier brings to me daily as he passes by my desk are extremely pointless. To be honest, I don’t even care for these snacks but I eat them anyway “because they’re there”. Eeeeee. Mindless munching to the extreme!

  • Kara

    I read this article and have begun a food journal. I really didn’t realize how much random shit I ingest in a day. I feel like it’s the only thing that will keep me accountable for what I eat (other than the bulging belly reminder, of course). Thanks!