We all have experienced moments of eating unconsciously - some more than others. What do I mean by Unconscious Eating? Simply put, it is eating while doing another activity, such as watching television, reading, working at your desk.
Based on the book, Intuitive Eating by Eveyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, there are subtypes of unconscious eaters. Which one resonates with you?
Chaotic Unconscious Eater ~ lives a very hectic life so it only makes sense that their eating style is based on whatever is available at the time. Vending machines, fast food restaurants are typically the target when needing to eat. It isn't that nutrition and health are unimportant - it simply has not reached CRITICAL mass during all of the chaos. The Chaotic Eater will also go for long periods of time without eating!
Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater ~ simply the presence of food, regardless if hungry or not, makes this unconscious eater vulnerable. Candy jars, food lying around at meetings, food sitting on the kitchen counter - none will usually be passed up by the Refuse-Not eater. Most of the time, they are not aware that they ARE eating, or how much. Social outings that revolve around food, such as family holiday celebrations (fast approaching), are especially hard for Refuse-Nots.
Waste-Not Unconscious Eater ~ this is my mother! This unconscious eater values the food dollar and they are often influenced by getting as much as they can for their money. I lovingly refer to my mother who was raised to clean her plate and eat everything because food was not in abundance (I hesitate to say "scarce", but it was not the availability that we have now). This unconscious eater will even clean the plate of a family member - spouse, child, etc.
Emotional Unconscious Eater ~ using food to COPE with emotions, especially those uncomfortable ones such as anger, stress, loneliness. Again it is unconscious, so we may grab a candy bar when we are stressed and may not be aware of it until we're taking our last bite, if then. Emotional eating may go deeper, however, and become chronic eating with binge-ing, purging, etc (a.k.a. Eating Disorder). How many times have you finished the entire bag of M&M's, etc.?
Intuitive Eating also summarizes two other eating personalities besides the Unconscious Eater: Careful Eater and Professional Dieter.
Careful Eater ~ this type of eater is vigilant and appears to be a "perfect" eater as they are highly nutrition-conscious. They may scrutinize food labels, which is a good thing to know what you are eating, but the intensity of the Careful Eater takes it to the extremes. They may spend most of their waking hours planning the next meal, often worrying about what to eat next; and may cross the line of eating for the sake of body image, not health and nutrition.
Professional Dieter ~ as the name implies, they are perpetually dieting and always trying the latest FAD diet, which gives them plenty of knowledge that does not serve them at all. As their main objective is to lose weight, not nutrition & health, they will try anything to lose the weight including laxatives, diet pills and such, which may lead to an eating disorder.
A healthy relationship with food, your body, and emotions will help you become an Intuitive Eater - someone who knows when they are physically hungry and when they are satisfied (not full). An Intuitive Eater makes food choices without experiencing the guilt. No more "dieting", honoring your hunger (including when to stop eating), no more "forbidden foods", no more guilt/shame with food choices, find alternative ways to cope with your emotions and respect your body, incorporate more movement (not necessarily "exercise"), and honor your health. Just because you eat healthy, does not mean you are giving up taste!
EAT TO LIVE, Not Live to Eat