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Mindless eating: 6 steps to help refocus

woman journaling

Now that fall is here, mindless eating is creeping in as the Kansas evenings get dark and cold. Mindless eating is something that all of us do now and then. The pattern usually strikes right after work or as we are winding down before bed. Oftentimes, it is on the weekends when we get some down time and don’t know what to do.

Excessive mindless eating can cause one to overeat and to gain weight. If you are struggling against the urge to snack mindlessly, consider the following distractions instead.

Healthy mindless eating distractions

  1. Clean and organize your space. There is always something to be done to tidy up your surroundings. If you are at home, try switching gears to do the dishes, put away laundry, or vacuum/sweep. If your pantry, cabinets or closets are disorganized, assign a designated place for everything. The list goes on!!
  2. Take time for physical self-care. Turn your focus off food and onto your body. Try taking a shower or an aromatherapy bath. Trim your nails or get out the razor for a quick shave. Grab your favorite lotion and moisturize.
  3. Move to release excess energy. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym. Even a short walk down the street or a set of jumping jacks can help. Try dancing to an upbeat playlist.
  4. Do something creative with your hands. This can be playing a musical instrument or opening an adult coloring book. You can also try painting, knitting or another artsy craft. If you want to find an outlet to process your emotions, journal in a quiet place to express what you are feeling.
  5. Get out of the house. Your home environment can sometimes fuel mindless eating. Try to run some errands on your To-Do list or go window shopping. Visit a friend or neighbor. Walk to a nearby park or take your car for a scenic drive.
  6. Slow down and pause for a minute.  We start to slip into bad habits when our behaviors are faster than our thoughts. When you start to feel bored, anxious, stressed or scared, stop and ask yourself why. Then give yourself time to process your thoughts and really feel your feelings. This process might be uncomfortable at first, but it is a healthy exercise in mindfulness. If your thoughts and temptations continue, find a distracting outlet like one listed above. Try this for at least 10 minutes, but don’t feel bad if you take longer.

Don’t be embarrassed to communicate what is happening to a loved one. Sometimes a friendly voice is enough to calm the raging waters. When it all comes down to confronting mindless eating, the most important thing you can do is to find a healthy outlet that will reset your mind. 

For more information about Ascension Via Christi's Weight Management programs in Manhattan and Wichita, visit:

About Debra L. Doubek MD

Debra L. Doubek, MD, is medical director of Via Christi LIGHT, a physician-supervised weight loss program in Manhattan, Kansas. She is certified in bariatrics through the American Board of Bariatric Medicine.