04/28/2014 04:11 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2014

End Mindless Eating in 8 Easy Steps

"Did I just eat that much?" "Why did I just eat that?" When you eat mindlessly, the quantity of food and the number of times you eat can take you by surprise. Whenever you ask yourself these questions, it's evident that mindless eating is present. Simply put mindless eating means your brain is not engaged in your eating.

Mindless eating may occur while reading, driving, studying, watching TV, socializing or doing any activity where you are concentrating on something other than eating. Before you know it, you've eaten more than you planned, or you had unplanned eating all together. Mindless eating is usually unsatisfying and leads to excess weight and ill health.

There are three times each year when people become more mindful eaters;
(1) In January
(2) At the beginning of spring
(3) In September, when the kids head back to school

Each of these calendar times signify a new beginning, and you may feel like it's the time of year to start new habits. But unfortunately, without follow-through, most people fall back into the old habit of eating mindlessly.

In order to gain insight into how often you eat mindless, I suggest you take one day or a week, and eat with your other hand. This act demands that your brain be engaged in your eating. It is unnatural for you to eat with your other hand so your brain must send a command to your hand to pick up food and put it into your mouth. This experiment will be an awakening for you, to how often you engage in mindless eating.

Another way to end mindless eating is to sit down each time you eat anything. Let it become unnatural for you to eat while standing. After suggesting this to a client to help curb her mindless eating, I received the following email from her:

"I have to tell you that when I tell my son it's time to eat he runs to his high chair. He knows at 16 (almost 17) months that you must be sitting down to eat."

Imagine your life if you never again ate mindlessly. You would truly desire and enjoy everything that you choose to eat. You can easily change your eating style by following these eight easy steps to mindful eating:

1. It's okay to be hungry. Hunger is not the enemy, over-stuffed is. Over-stuffed means overeating. Get comfortable with feeling hungry. It's your body telling you to eat. Continue to eat a balanced diet with the right amount of food for your body size.

2. Respect, praise and love your body at any weight, even today's weight. You'll take better care of your body when it is appreciated and not belittled.

3. When you find yourself asking, "What should I eat," change it to: "Why do I want to eat"? If you are hungry, eat. By asking a different question, the answer changes, leading you to a new, more productive response.

4. You are neither a good nor bad eater. Make everything you eat a deliberate choice, and every choice you make has either a benefit or consequence. Be willing to accept your choice, along with its result.

5. Drink water. Water is crucial to your good health. Often hunger is disguised as thirst, and mindlessly you eat when you are actually thirsty. Drinking water regularly each day will quench your thirst and eliminate the desire to eat mindlessly.

6. Stop making sparks with your knife and fork. Eat slowly while listening carefully to your breathing. When you begin to sigh or breathe heavier, your stomach is full but you don't know it yet. It's time to stop eating.

7. Begin to master both perseverance and patience. When you effectively take the time to practice the skills needed, mindless eating will be a thing of the past.

8. No more excuses. You either make excuses or you make it happen, but you can't do both. There is no end. This is a daily process and practice. Accept it knowing that the only day that matters is today, not a specific season or a date on the calendar. Your health, well-being, happiness or level of success will no longer be jeopardized by mindless eating.