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The Playbook for Avoiding Unconscious Eating

Oct 17, 2013

The kickoff to the holiday season is right around the corner with Halloween candy and fall baking ingredients rushing into your pantry. Consuming empty calories through mindless eating habits is one of the biggest penalties most people commit during this time of year. To keep yourself moving toward the goal line of living a healthy and fit lifestyle, incorporate the following eating strategies into your nutrition playbook.

Review Game Tape

The best way to pinpoint your eating habits and identify where you might be committing penalties is by creating a food journal. Over the course of a week, write down all of the calories you consume (food and beverages) to get a good picture of what types of foods you typically eat and how many meals and snacks you consume on a daily basis. It also is helpful to write down all of the foods you like, as well as foods you absolutely won’t eat. Focus on the types of foods you like, identify healthy options for your preferable foods and start creating a game plan from there.  

“It’s important to practice healthy eating habits on a regular basis, but especially during this time of year,” says Billy Beyer, personal trainer and studio owner at FT Basking Ridge. “The key is to keep it as simple as possible.”

Follow a Game Plan

As you run routes throughout your day, it is easy to fumble your healthy eating habits by eating something here or there without realizing how many total calories you are consuming each day. When you’re busy at work and get stuck in a meeting over the lunch hour, your first play when you’re hungry and tired is to start putting whatever is around the office into your mouth. The way you avoid getting yourself into sticky situations of unconscious eating like these is to set up a game plan that is easy to execute every day of every week, Beyer suggests.

To draw up a healthy eating playbook, the first step is to figure out how many total calories you need to consume on a daily basis to either maintain or achieve your desired weight. Divide your total number of calories into three meals and one or two small snacks. A sample game plan that Beyer suggests to get you started on the road to a victory includes:

Breakfast: Yogurt and oatmeal
Snack: Your favorite fruits
Lunch: A mix of whole grains, lean proteins and the greenest vegetables possible
Snack: High-protein snack like almonds
Healthy Dinner: Whole grains, lean proteins, heart-healthy fats and vegetables

“There is no quick fix,” Beyer advises. “Don’t get caught up in fad diets. Keep what you eat as simple as possible.”

Score the Game-Winning Touchdown

This time of year between Halloween and New Year’s is prime time for people to gain a lot of weight without realizing it. To avoid this trend this year, it’s important to eat the proper amount of healthy foods on a daily basis and during holiday parties.  

Portion control and eating in moderation are leading players when it comes to scoring big with eating healthy and avoiding mindless eating. To make sure you are eating proper portions on a daily basis, Beyer recommends investing in small storage bags and preparing one serving size of your snack or meal items for each bag. This portioning strategy eliminates the need to worry about eating too much because when you’ve finished the food in your storage bag you know that you just consumed one serving size.

Depending on your schedule, you can prepare and portion out your meals for the week during the weekend or do it on a daily basis during the evening or morning. Just figure out what works for you and stick with it.

When it comes to managing the tendency of overeating at holiday parties and dinners, don’t be afraid to bring your healthy eating game plan with you. Instead of sampling a little of everything on the buffet table or serving platters, look through the menu, pick out the healthy options, and build your own meal based on the healthy foods that are available. It also is a good idea to eat something healthy and light prior to the party to curb your appetite and reduce the risk of eating everything in sight at the event.

“Eating a healthy meal before you go to a party can help you avoid unconscious eating,” Beyer said. “You don’t want to let yourself get too hungry because that’s when you can get out of control.”

To keep control of calorie consumption and score healthy eating habits, it’s important to follow a game plan that is based on nutrition, proper proportions and moderation. By keeping your head in the game, you are setting yourself in motion to scoring the game-winning touchdown of leading a nutritionally sound lifestyle.


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