Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE you Start Eating

Kristin Davis RD, LD

Have you ever been sitting on the couch, eating something you weren’t really hungry for? I know I have. There are a lot of reasons we eat, the least of which is for fuel. We often reach for food to sooth our emotions, take the place of something in our lives, or distract us from some discomfort.  Often the food is in our mouths before we even realize what we’re doing, as if food consumes us, not the other way around.

Awareness is a great tool. It can keep you from going back to the fridge again and again, trying to find just the right thing to eat, that elusive “perfect” something that never can be found. The next time you are standing at the open refrigerator door, staring into the bright light, bring the following four questions to mind:

1. Am I hungry?
I like this question because it reminds me of my actions in the moment. I often follow it up with, What would I be thinking about if I wasn’t thinking about food? The question really brings with it the truth of the moment, of feelings squashed down.

2. Is this what I feel like eating?
If you’ve ever gone from sweet, to salty, to crunchy, to peanut butter, you obviously haven’t really figured out the food you’re craving. Rather than giving in to the pattern of grazing, really think about the food you are hungry for, rather than just stuffing something into your maw.

3. Is this what I feel like eating now?
Sure, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups might be on your mind but if you’ve been sedentary all day and now you’re just looking for something to do, these treats would be better set aside until you’ve really earned them

4. Is there something else I could eat instead?
A bar, shake or sugar-free treat might just satisfy a need that won’t sabotage your efforts of the day.

These four questions, plus many other techniques for being more mindful of the reasons behind your own eating habits can be found in Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size
.  She also advocates writing 3 pages each morning to get out everything that’s on your mind. For more about night eating, trigger foods and food hangovers, you’ll want to read Cameron’s book.

What do you find helpful when it comes to curbing your binge?