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03-06 Conscious vs Unconscious Eating

Conscious vs. Unconscious Eating
by Jon Zwitt and Dawn Weatherwax

Are you someone who gets home from a long, stressful day at work and before the door can close, you have a bag of chips, or some other unhealthy choice in your hands? Then, in an attempt to unwind, you flop on the couch and begin channel surfing. A half an hour or so passes and when you get up to put the remaining chips back in the pantry, you discover that the bag is completely empty! You ask yourself in disbelief: "Where did all those chips go? I couldn"t have just eaten an entire bag, could I?"

But when the truth sets in, you realize that the chips did not magically disappear, nor did you share them with anyone. You reluctantly admit to yourself that you and you alone must have unknowingly consumed the entire bag.      

If this situation sounds all too familiar, it's not a reason for an anxiety attack. This event is better known as "unconscious eating," and it's a problem experienced by a large number of people. 

A conscious act is something done with consideration and usually an individual first weighs the potential consequences of his or her actions. When a conscious act occurs, an individual knowingly realizes what he or she is doing and why. This is the kind of reasoning you should apply to your eating, especially if emotional eating is a reoccurring theme in your life.

When you eat consciously, you have a smaller chance of using food for emotional coping. Many people often use food to compensate for something they feel is missing in their lives. In today"s society, food is rarely used just as fuel. If this were the case, we would all simply consume the precise number of calories which we exert each day. For many of us, food is comfort. Food is love. Food is safety. Food is security. Or food is reward.

These unconscious eating patterns are often developed during childhood and no matter how much will power individuals possess, unconscious eating will find a way to reassert itself.

However, by becoming consciously aware of why you eat and reinforcing new behaviors, you can begin to alter those unconscious eating habits and make lasting changes in your behavior. This makes it easier to satisfy the physical hunger in a manner which is truly healthy, rather than giving in to our emotional appetite.

Warning signs of unconscious eating:

  • Eating when you aren't hungry
  • Eating more than you planned on
  • Eating in a hurry or on the go
  • Emotional eating, from stress or anxiety
  • Eating too quickly
  • Eating often in front of the TV or during computer sessions

Tips to prevent unconscious eating:

  • Slow down your eating and taste your food
  • Notice the speed in which you eat
  • Taste your food–notice the flavors and the textures
  • Ask yourself if you are hungry
  • DO NOT eat in front of the TV
  • DO NOT eat out of the bag
  • DO NOT eat on the go
  • Put your snacks in a bowl for the day/week and when it is gone, it is gone
  • Relax before eating, stress drains energy, which causes you to eat large meals
  • Plan, make healthy and wise food choices before you eat
  • Focus on the event of eating and the quality rather than the quantity of food
  • Formally sit down for all of your meals
  • Create a nice environment to enjoy your healthy meals

Many times people eat when they are not necessarily hungry in a physical sense. This hunger might be in response to the mind craving a particular sensation. However, this is almost inevitable when we live in a society that is highly focused on food and marketing that food. On any given night, an individual can be exposed to more than a dozen food commercials while watching television. This leads to people eating because of a false appetite rather than physical hunger. This is what causes people to lose their connection with the true purpose of food, which is the main cause of overeating.  

We need to remember that the role of food is for fuel and not to give in to those false hunger sensations. The way to do this is to always be aware of the true role of food, which is to nourish our bodies.

Review these warning signs and if any or all of these apply to you, look through the tips and hopefully these will assist you in your journey to becoming happier and healthier. And remember "Eat to live, don't live to eat!"

Love Starts in the Kitchen!™
By: Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH

Macy's Regional Culinary Professional, Syndicated Columnist Community Press, and Certified Modern Herbalist

Fat Tuesday is over, and the Lenten season, for many of us, begins. Here are some great recipes that I made recently in a Mardi Gras class that are just perfect for family suppers or casual entertaining.

NEWS RELEASE! My new website is up and running.
Visit me at

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Go to taste on this!

  • 1 pound Cajun style low-fat smoked sausage or regular or low-fat chicken or soy smoked sausage, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 2-3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic or more to taste, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cups cooked diced chicken
  • 32 oz. chicken broth, fat-free
  • 1-1/4 cups white or brown rice
  • Cajun seasoning to taste: start with 2-3 teaspoons
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomato slices and thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Sauté sausage, celery, onion, garlic and green pepper over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add chicken, broth, rice and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower to simmer and cook until rice is done and liquid is absorbed, about 25-40 minutes or so. Add salt. Cooking time will depend on the type of rice you use, if the chicken is straight from the frig, etc. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10-12

To serve: Place jambalaya on plate. Lay a tomato slice on top. Sprinkle with green onions.

Red Beans & Rice

Go to taste on the spices & herbs!

  • 1 generous cup chopped onion
  • 1 generous teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    (I like Buena Vida)
  • 2 cups white rice or brown rice
  • 2 cans red beans, drained
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, fat free
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: Thinly sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes

Film bottom of pan with olive oil (or just use a cooking spray and spray the veggies after they're in the pan to lower the fat).

Add onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Sauté until onion looks almost clear. Add rice, beans and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Serves 10-12 as a side dish

Why these Recipes are So Good For You:

  • Chicken: A good source of iron and protein
  • Beans: These cancer-licking legumes are low fat, high fiber and protein, beans help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, especially folks with heart disease who also have diabetes
  • Onions and Garlic: Great for your heart
  • Tomatoes: The lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful antioxidant and is also good for the prostate
  • Brown rice: Nutritionally superior to white, this rice has a lower glycemic index and your body absorbs it more slowly

My books Gifts without Ribbons, Culinary Herbs that Heal Body and Soul, The Official Snack Guide for Beleaguered Sports Moms are available locally at Susan's Natural World, Jungle Jims, Borders, Jo Beth, Natorp's, Kremers NKy.

Buy them at Susan's Natural World and Jungle Jims.

Copyright 2006 Rita Heikenfeld

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Add Years of Life in Elderly

A Mediterranean diet is one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains, and fats such as olive oil. The diet is moderate in red meat and dairy products. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated the single and combined effect of Mediterranean diet, being physically active, moderate alcohol use, and nonsmoking on causes of death in elderly European men and women. During a ten-year follow-up, deaths from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and overall mortality were analyzed.

In this study, the combination of healthy diet and lifestyle led to a 65% reduction in the overall death rate and more than 50% reductions in deaths caused by coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Adherence to a Mediterranean style diet, coupled with a few healthy lifestyle habits, can add years of life even among individuals aged 70 to 90 years.

Possible Alternatives for Asthma Patients

The January 2006 issue of the Journal Chest reported that supplementation with Fish Oil reduced the severity of exercise induced bronchoconstriction. In a randomized, double blind, crossover study, 16 asthmatic patients who suffer EIB were given 3.2 g/d of EPA and 2.0 g/d of DHA. Eight of the patients in the study who were given the fish oil had a significant reduction in inflammation. The use of bronchodilators also decreased.  Of interest is that the study was just three weeks duration.

Chest. January 2006;129:39-49
© 2006 American College of Chest Physicians



Eric Monroe is an athlete who wanted to get a scholarship for football. He was told he needed to gain muscle. With hard work he accomplished it. He went from 200 lbs. to 234 lbs. in over a year.

Eric - "Sports Nutrition 2Go is a great opportunity!"

Mom and Dad - "It's exciting. We're very proud of Eric's work and are happy for him that he reached his goal of playing Division I football! Dawn, as you know, you WERE an important part of it!"

Current News

Dawn Weatherwax was asked to write an article on Caffeine and performance for Gatorade. It will appear in Training & Conditioning and to coaches across America.

Dawn Weatherwax presented to the athletes at St. James Church on "Running, Nutrition and Performance" on March 9th, 2006.

New Clients
SN2Go is currently working with a professional athlete from the New Orleans Saints.

SN2Go is currently working with 3 NFL hopefuls from Integrity First Management.

SN2Go is currently working with 1 NFL hopeful from Ron Todd's Agency.

SN2Go is now officially adding Sodium Chloride testing as a service. If you want to know how much salt you sweat per pound this test is for you, especially if you experience muscle cramps.

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