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What is Habitual Eating?


what is habitual eating

How many times in a day, a week or a month do you find yourself eating out of habit?

  • Sitting down to watch a movie - ooh must have popcorn.

  • Having a glass of wine - a cheese board would pair nicely.

  • Out for a cocktail - let's have an appetizer.

  • Visiting Mom - immediately opens fridge (or cupboard) to see what delicious foods she has stored.

  • Campfire - s'mores are a must.

There are probably endless examples but I'll stop there (because you get my point). As much as we eat for sustenance we also eat to numb emotions, to cure boredom, to connect, to celebrate, and we eat out of habit.


I don't believe eating itself is the issue it's our motivation behind the eating that I encourage clients to look at.


So often I have clients tell me, I come home from work I sit in my favourite chair and I have a snack. When I ask why - I'm often met with because that's just what I do I guess.


Habitual eating comes with mindlessness. It really is eating on autopilot. There's a cue and the response of eating that we have associated with the said cue.


So if you find yourself eating just for the sake of eating (when you're not physically hungry), here are a few tips:

  1. Bring awareness to your eating habits. Awareness is always the first step. We can not change something that we are unaware of. It can be helpful to use a food/mood journal to document when, where and why you're eating throughout the day.

  2. Consider the pros and cons of this habit. Is it serving you in any way? What are you getting out of continuing this habit?

  3. Identify the cue or trigger for the habit of eating. What, when, where, or how are you cued to reach for food?

  4. Change up your environment. If you always eat your popcorn in the corner section of the couch while you watch a movie, can you sit somewhere else?

  5. Use mindful eating principles to bring you into the present moment of eating.


What to do next...

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