Food Psychology Training: Are You a 'Focused Eater?'
Lots of the time, our eating happens unconsciously – on auto-pilot. You’re eating before you realise it – your hand is in the biscuit tin and the biscuit is in your mouth before you even recognise what’s going on. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there!
This is called ‘’mindless eating’ – eating when your mind is somewhere else, and eating for a reason other than hunger. Because the food was there and you picked it up without thinking, or because you want distraction, or a break, or something else.
We all eat mindlessly for non-hunger reasons – it is ok and very human. The difficulty when we’re struggling to lose weight is that mindless eating occurs more often than is helpful.
So rather than begin by changing what we’re eating, we first need to start to increase our focus on why we are eating, and develop the skills of ‘Focused Eating’.
We need to start to notice the conditions in which eating occurs and ask ourselves, ’Is food what I really need?’ Given that mindless eating is pretty unconscious, this is easier said than done!
So I’d like to introduce you to the three step Food Psychology Academy Process to help you with this.
It’s the three step ‘WHY’ strategy.
WHY is an acronym – and it stands for 3 things you can experiment with doing differently as you make the decision to eat.
W is for ‘Wait’ – which is to pause before eating
H is for ‘Hungry?’- which is to ask yourself, ‘Am I hungry for food or something else?’
Y is for ‘Yes’ – which is to say ‘yes’ to food or ‘yes’ to another need you need to get met
The first step – waiting – is arguably the hardest to do because eating is unconscious – so this step is really about remembering to wait and pause before eating. In the short term, you can find a reminder to help you. The best way is to put a reminder on your dominant hand or wrist. Your dominant hand is usually the one you write with, and it’s the one that you generally use to reach for food. If you join me for a Food Psychology Academy Training Course, you receive a subtle wrist band to help you with this, but other ideas of reminders are:
Moving your watch so it’s on your dominant wrist
Wearing a charity band, elastic band, hair band around wrist
Writing a * on the back of your hand
Wearing a ring/painting nails/putting a plaster on the back of your hand etc.
The only limit is your imagination – feel free to get as creative as you like! Anything that acts as a trigger that when you are reaching for the food you are reminded, “Oh yes! I’m doing something differently with food, what it is again?” Remember you won’t need to have the reminder there forever. It’s just a short-term strategy to break the mindless eating habit. Most people find that seven days is long enough.
Which leads us on to step two – asking yourself ‘Am I hungry for food or something else? Is food what I really need right now?’ The first thing to say here is that you might not know if you’re really hungry – many of us have lost our ability to tune into our hunger because in our modern day lives we tend to eat simply because it’s a mealtime, or because someone else has prepared something for us, or it’s just there and available and looks delicious! Food Psychology Academy students discover lots of strategies that can help them figure out their ‘Hunger Number’.
If your ‘Hunger Number’ tells you that you’re not truly hungry, then you are trying to solve a problem using food. You can therefore start to experiment with asking yourself, ‘What AM I hungry for?’ it might be a break from whatever it is you’re doing. To cheer you up. As a distraction. To bond with someone…..
The Food Psychology Academy is designed to help you to figure out what you’re truly hungry for, and what problems you may be trying to get solved by eating.
For now, the question to hold in mind is simply, ‘Am I hungry for food or something else?
Finally, step 3 is to say ‘yes’ to food or ‘yes’ to what you’re really hungry for. Whatever decision you make, you can feel confident you’ve made it mindfully and with thought, ensuring you’re not left with that guilty ‘food hangover’.
If you’d like to learn more, join me in the ‘Certificate in Food Psychology’ online course, teaching you the food psychology tools you need for food and body freedom. It’s been independently evaluated by the UK’s National Health Service to lead to weight loss so it’s a proven solution you can trust. Visit the ‘Shop’ page to find out more and get started today!