Stop Mindless Eating To Lose Weight

What is Mindless Eating?

Have you ever been to the movies and ordered a bag of popcorn? You are sitting in the theater, fixated on the screen, and all of a sudden, you feel your fingers at the bottom of the bag. You consumed all of the popcorn and didn’t even get to savor the satisfaction of it! This is a good way to understand the concept of mindless eating.

woman eating a large bag of popcorn at the movies

Mindless eating is a common occurrence that happens when the brain is distracted while eating. People who mindlessly eat are unaware of what food they are consuming, the amount, and their physical sensations. Most of the time, people who are mindless eaters don’t realize it.

Components of Mindless Eating

Let’s review some of the most common reasons for mindless eating. If we can better detect these triggers, we can avoid mindless eating altogether!

  • Eating when feeling bored, stressed, anxious, or happy, but NOT physically hungry. Emotional eating.
  • Eating while doing something else (walking, driving, working)
  • Eating in front of the television
  • Eating food because it is present and looks good, but not because of true hunger
  • Eating while being zoned out
  • Following food rules and not body cues

u-turn sign in the road with mindful and mindless

Quiz: What Kind of Eater Am I?

Do you know what kind of eater YOU are? Let’s take a quiz and find out.

To complete this quiz, answer each question with the number that you think best correlates with your current eating style. 

1 = Almost always

2 = Frequently

3 = Infrequently

4 = Almost never

  1. I don’t really notice or appreciate the taste of my food.
  2. I avoid or delay eating even when I feel hungry.
  3. I eat when I am not hungry.
  4. I don’t notice that I am full, until way after the fact.
  5. If I zone out while eating, I am able to quickly bring myself back into the present moment.
  6. I eat without being aware that I am eating.
  7. I multitask while I eat.
  8. I tend to eat fast, not thoroughly chewing each bite.
  9. I eat when I feel stressed out.
  10. I eat when I feel sad, lonely, or bored.
  11. I feel that I need to “clean my plate.” Even if I feel full, I do not like to waste any food.
  12. I am judgemental of myself, my body, and my food preferences. 
  13. I believe that being extremely strict with my diet is the only way I can succeed. 
  14. I force or control what and how much I eat.
  15. My body image is easily impacted by the media and comments of others.
  16. I find it difficult to remain focused in the here and now.

How to score: Add up your answers and divide the number by 16. Your score will be a number between 1 and 4. 

Score Results

  • A higher number (closer to 4) reflects more freedom and mindfulness around your eating behaviors. 
  • A higher number also reflects a more mindful relationship with food, your body, and the physical sensations that precede and influence your food choices.
  • If you scored a lower number, do not worry! This is a good starting point to allow you to notice the areas where you may need some work. 
  • Remember, nobody is mindful all of the time. These habits of mindfulness take time! Enjoy this process of learning about your body and what it may be telling you.
  • Practicing mindful eating is a great way to take control of your health and eliminate habits that may lead to over-eating.
  • The more mindful you become, the freer you will be!

Mindless Eating Leads to Weight Gain

Eating mindlessly is one of the largest contributors to unintended weight gain. If we can stop eating mindlessly, we can save our bodies from consuming excess calories. 

Studies have found that individuals who eat mindlessly, or while distracted:

  • Eat larger meals
  • Eat more snacks
  • Eat faster
  • Have less satisfaction due to the inability to remember what they ate
  • Increased food-seeking behaviors

All of these factors are what lead to unintended weight gain. However – with the right tools, mindless eating can be discarded forever!

one small bowl of popcorn and one large bowl

Become Present When You Eat

If you notice that you easily zone out while eating, try these simple tricks to help yourself remain in the moment and eat mindfully:

  • Name a few things you see in front of you
  • Practice gratitude – Say a few words of thanks before you eat
  • Take a few deep breaths to help send oxygen to the brain
  • Stretch before you sit down to eat
  • Take a drink of water or tea
  • Place food on nice dishes or a brightly colored placemat
  • Take a pause between bites and ask yourself how the food smells, tastes, feels and looks

Try to recognize when you find yourself zoning out and slipping into mindless eating!

woman engaging in her senses while enjoying a meal

Main Takeaways

Mindless eating occurs when the brain becomes unattentive during the eating process. A few factors contribute to mindless eating. 

Some of these factors include:

  • Eating in response to emotions, but NOT physical hunger
  • Eating while being distracted or multitasking
  • Eating in front of the television
  • Eating food because it is present and looks good, but not because of true hunger
  • Eating while being zoned out
  • Following food rules and not body cues


Mindless eating can lead to weight gain as one might overeat when mindless. Stopping mindless eating is a proven way to lose extra weight.

Get Pacer To Track Your Eating Habits

Get Pacer! Pacer offers tools to help you track your mindfulness during your meals. If you don’t have Pacer yet, download Pacer for FREE! (on mobile)


Albers, S (2013) Mindful eating quiz – eating mindfully.

Mindful eating questionnaire. The Mindfulness Diet. (2022).

Oldham-Cooper, R. E., Hardman, C. A., Nicoll, C. E., Rogers, P. J., & Brunstrom, J. M. (2011). Playing a computer game during lunch affects fullness, memory for lunch, and later snack intake. The American journal of clinical nutrition93(2), 308–313.

Leave a Reply