It sounds simple in theory, but learning how to differentiate between boredom and hunger can be a struggle. If you ever find yourself standing at the fridge, wondering just how you ended up there — yet again! — these tips will help you build new habits and curb unnecessary weight gain.
Become Aware: Psychologist and proponent of mindful eating Dr. Susan Albers urges her clients to take stock of their habits. "We're often just mindlessly eating without really being hungry … we have habits around certain time periods," she says. If you find yourself heading to the fridge for a snack or mini-meal when you have nothing else going on, take stock of how you're feeling at that moment. Are you stressed? Bored? Unless you're actually hungry, there's no reason to chow down.
Rethink TV Time: When you haven't planned out an afternoon or an evening, it can be tempting to tune in to the tube and sink into the couch. If you're constantly snacking when you're watching television, drop the fork and start making better use of your time. Keep a set of free weights nearby for a little lifting as you watch, or drop to the floor for these TV-friendly exercises that won't get in the way of keeping up with your favorite show.
Try a Little Water: Many people confuse the sensations of thirst for hunger. If you've recently eaten and you're feeling unsatisfied, take this advice from Mara Z. Vitolins, RD, a Wake Forest assistant professor of public health sciences. "It is hard to distinguish between being thirsty and being hungry, so try drinking water and waiting 20 to 30 minutes to see if you're still hungry."
Start Sitting Down: Constant grazing or chowing down at the fridge can put you at a disadvantage. When you stand up and eat, you're not always aware of what's being consumed, and food isn't looked at as a meal. Instead of standing up at the fridge and eating, designate specific times for meals and snacks. Not only will this help you differentiate between boredom and hunger, you'll find yourself eating less when there aren't outside distractions.