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Mindless Eating

by Jimmy Page

Believe it or not, 75 percent of Americans will be overweight by the year 2015. Seventy-five percent! And more than 40 percent will be considered obese. Further estimations reveal that 24 percent of American children and adolescents will be overweight or obese—an alarming trend with far-reaching health implications.

Did you know?

Among Americans…
• 91% typically watch TV when eating
  meals at home.
• 62% sometimes or often are too busy to
  sit down and eat.
• 35% eat lunch at their desk while they
• 26% often eat when driving.

    American Dietetic Association
While there are many reasons for this growing public health crisis, it seems that pointless eating is one of the main culprits. In his book Mindless Eating, author Brian Wansink writes, “The basic rule: distractions of all kinds make us eat, forget how much we eat, and extend how long we eat—even when we’re not hungry.” And research confirms this, revealing that people will eat 20 to 100 percent more food when distracted!

But let’s be honest. Do we really need statistics to tell us that? We can see it in personal experience. I have conducted enough personal “research” to know that I eat more when I am watching a football game or a movie—far more than I need. And with the fall sports season in full swing, tailgate parties, NFL Sundays and MLB playoffs all threaten to derail even the most committed weight-loss program. The average televised sporting event is longer than three hours. I can eat a lot of food in three hours! Add to that the pending holiday eating season, and we are in trouble.

What’s most interesting to me is that the only thing we need in order to overeat is to be preoccupied. We could be driving, working, attending a sporting event, watching television, going to a movie or throwing a party. Regardless, we have made multi-tasking an American sport. And unfortunately, those distractions are tools that the enemy uses to defeat us. Think about what happens when we are able to focus on the task at hand. We are far more productive, make fewer mistakes and have greater success. We are ready. We are prepared. We execute a plan. And then we eat less!

When we disengage our brains, however, that’s when we get into trouble. Doing things without thinking is great if you are a well-trained athlete performing perfectly in a game because you practiced and carried out repetitive drills. That is referred to as “being in the zone.” How great would it be if we could get in the zone with respect to eating? That place where we eat the right foods, in the right amounts, at the right times regardless of the distraction. That is the freedom that God wants for us! He wants us to have the knowledge and then apply it for our health and His glory.

God tells us to be alert because He knows we are prone to distraction. So, what can we do to avoid all of this mindless overeating? Try these strategies to get your head back in the game and win the battle against overeating:

1. Don’t eat snacks directly out of a bag. Instead, take a reasonable quantity out of the bag.
2. Eat food on smaller plates. This actually tricks you into thinking you are eating more food.
3. Buy smaller bags of treats. Research shows that we eat less junk if it is served in smaller bags or bowls.
4. Don’t eat in front of the TV. Separate eating from other activities.
5. Eat only one serving. Don’t go back for that third or fourth piece of pizza.
6. Choose the best foods available. Vegetables and fruits are usually safe.

Don’t let the distractions of mindless eating defeat you! Engage your mind and focus on the things of the Spirit, for this will bring life and peace.

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 
First paragraph statistics from Johns Hopkins University

Copyright 2007 Sharing the Victory Magazine

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