How to move from eating on autopilot to mindful eating
(and why you want to)

Yesterday, I asked you to pay attention to whether you are eating mindfully or whether your eating “happens” on autopilot, without your full attention.

If you’ve paid attention to the patterns over the last 24 hours, you may have noticed a few interesting things about your eating. On the other hand, you may have felt discouraged or frustrated because mindful eating seems impossible for you.

No worries.

Peace with food is created one step at a time.

Sometimes your biggest challenges with overeating lead to the learning that makes the difference.

As you take control of overeating and emotional eating, it’s critical to focus on autopilot eating (any mindless eating or eating that happens without your full attention) if you want to be successful.

Here’s the next key question to answer if you are overeating or want to lose weight:

Consider the times when you tend to eat mindlessly or on autopilot.

What would help you be more present and aware of your eating?

Autopilot behaviors take away our ability to choose. One of the most powerful moves you can make is to be proactive and to decide how you will respond to your hungers. You can’t make a decision about whether your body needs food or whether you are responding to a hidden hunger unless you are present and aware when you sit down to eat.

Grabbing food while you are doing something else, mindlessly nibbling at the leftovers, or finishing what’s on your plate at the restaurant because you didn’t even think about stopping – these are the autopilot behaviors that can quickly lead to extra pounds and frustration.

Asking what would help you to be more mindful may or may not generate clear ideas for you. Take time to sit with the question. Write down your thoughts and ideas in a journal. Give yourself permission to think and to brainstorm without judging yourself. Most importantly, don’t ever dismiss an idea as too small or silly.

Sometimes the tiniest little changes can trigger new behaviors. Things like putting your food on a plate or sitting down when you eat. Turning off the television or leaving your phone in the other room.

Ask yourself about any hurdles or challenges that might get in the way of eating mindfully. Do you feel too busy? Is it hard for you to do one thing at a time? Does it feel uncomfortable to pay attention and be present when you eat? Be honest with yourself and then see if there are small ways you can move forward anyway.

Lisa didn’t feel like she could commit to never working through lunch, so she set a goal to try it once a week. The other days she decided in advance what she would eat and she got rid of the candy in her desk drawer that she knew she would eat mindlessly when she was busy – without even tasting or enjoying.

Julie decided to experiment with banning electronic devices (including the TV in the background) at dinner.

Dianne created a habit of reminding herself to be present and to taste her food before she got out of her car on the way to business lunches.

Mary began to pause before her meal and give thanks for her food. She found it helped her feel grounded and to really experience her hunger, her fullness, and the food she was eating.

What is your biggest challenge with breaking patterns of autopilot eating and what is one change you will experiment with this week? Leave a comment and let me know.

Take good care,


Check out the rest of this series covering the four essential questions to ask if you want to stop overeating, emotional eating, or lose weight:

Question One: Answer this key question if you are overeating or want to lose weight

Question Three: You need this if you don’t want to overeat

Question Four: Why mindful eating may not be enough

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