Mindless eating, or eating when you’re not hungry, can lead to weight gain and many health problems. However, a lot of people do it. Whether they’re eating out of boredom, at a social event or while watching TV, eating when not hungry is a common activity and one that can be a problem.
Here are a few tips that can help you avoid eating when you’re not hungry, as well as a few suggestions for healthier ways to snack.
A lot of times, people eat because they have nothing else to do. To avoid eating when you’re not hungry, do things to distract yourself. Go for a walk, organize your desk, return some phone calls or emails; do anything that will keep your hands busy and your mind distracted, so you won’t end up eating. If you truly are hungry, your body will let you know. But if you’re just eating out of boredom, distracting yourself will help you forget.
It’s easy to confuse thirst for hunger. If you feel like snacking, try drinking a big glass of water instead. It might hit the spot, and you won’t be quite so tempted to eat something afterwards. If you still feel hungry a while later, then you probably are hungry. In this case, obviously, you should eat.
Choose Healthier Snacks
Not all snacking is bad for you. Sometimes you truly are hungry and need to have a snack to keep yourself going. The key is to have healthy snacks on hand that will prevent you from snacking on the wrong foods.
Slice up some fruit or vegetables in advance and leave them in a bowl in your fridge or in a sandwich bag in your desk at work. The next time you feel like a snack, you’ll have a healthy one nearby.
Don’t Keep “Binge Foods” in your Home
Everybody has food weaknesses, foods that they’ll binge on and eat too much of when given a chance. For some people it’s potato chips, for others it’s ice cream or chocolate. Whatever your binge foods are, don’t keep them in your home. If they’re not there, you can’t eat them.
Stand Away from the Food at Parties
If you’re going to a party or social event, don’t stand or sit near the food. Take a plate of food and then walk away to the other side of the room. This will prevent you from easily grabbing more snacks just because they’re right beside you.
Keep a Food Diary
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re hungry or simply tempted by tasty snacks and yummy smells. A good way to resolve this issue is by keeping a food diary. Write down everything you eat all day long. Then, if you feel like eating something, you can look back at the list and see if you’ve eaten enough today or if you truly do need something else. There are many different food diary smartphone apps that can make keeping track of your food intake easy.
A food diary will also help you review exactly what you’re eating, which will make it easier to see trends and make changes as necessary. If you look back at your diary and see that you’ve had chips four times this week, for example, you’ll want to make a change.
Eat Regular Meals
Eating regular healthy meals is important. You may think that you’ll lose weight if you skip meals, but it will only make you more likely to overeat later on. Make sure you have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and be sure to prepare some healthy snacks for yourself too. Doing so will keep you full of foods that are good for you, leaving you with no room for anything bad. Avoiding eating when you’re not hungry takes some work and dedication. However, once you learn to recognize hunger, create a plan for eating healthier snacks and learn to stay away from binge foods, you’ll be well on your way.