Method 1 of 4: Evaluating Your Eating Behavior
Keep a food diary. Keeping a food diary can help you learn what you eat every day. It can also help you take control of your eating habits because you pay more attention to them as you note them in your diary.
Review your food diary weekly. Once you have a week’s worth of diary entries, look back through them. Look for any patterns. For example, did you feel sad or stressed often when you ate? What activities were you doing (or not doing) when you ate?
Think about your snack habits. What foods do you choose to eat when you feel bored? Many people gravitate toward greasy, sweet or carbohydrate-laden foods when they feel upset, bored or stressed.
Learn your triggers. A variety of triggers make people feel like they need to eat, even if they don’t feel physically hungry. Some of these are mental and emotional, such as boredom or anxiety. Others are related to situations. For example, some people may find that they snack more when they watch TV. Maybe it feels “wrong” to see a movie without getting a popcorn and soda. Perhaps you feel pressure to eat when you’re at a party. Or maybe once you eat one doughnut, you feel like you have to eat them all. Whatever your triggers are, learning them can help you avoid mindless eating.
Check your fluid intake. Research shows that a lot of people don’t accurately recognize when they are thirsty. People often confuse symptoms of thirst for symptoms of hunger. Drinking more water may help reduce the urge to snack.
Method 2 of 4: Developing Healthy Eating Habits
Learn to recognize real hunger. Many people can't interpret hunger cues, leading them to think they’re hungry when they’re not. If your hunger recognition is off, you can use some tricks to learn how to tell when you’re hungry.
Think differently about your eating and drinking. Research shows that how you think about what you eat and drink affects how full you feel. One study presented the same liquid as a soup and then as a beverage. People rated the soup as more filling even though they were given the exact same amount of the exact same liquid! You’re more likely to feel “full” if you think of what you’ve eaten as a meal rather than a snack.
Choose more filling foods. If you find yourself eating a lot between meals, try making your meals more filling. Research shows that feeling full, or “satiated,” makes you less likely to overeat. Foods with a lot of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, will help you feel full for a longer period of time.
Eat breakfast. If you’re the type to skip a healthy breakfast in favor of a latte, you might want to reconsider. Numerous studies show that people who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat throughout the day. They’re also more likely to eat unhealthy snacks, such as high-fat or high-sugar foods.
Slow down and savor. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to feel “satisfied” after you eat. If you eat your meals and snacks quickly, you may end up eating a lot more than you need because you haven’t given your brain time to catch up with your mouth.
Put the snacks out of sight. Research shows that keeping snacks and sweets visible and within reach, such as on your desk, increases consumption. Even having to get up and walk across a room for a snack significantly lessens your likelihood of snacking.
Method 3 of 4: Developing Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Do something creative. Research shows that doing something boring can actually prompt you to be more creative in solving problems. If you find yourself bored, try shifting your focus to something that encourages creative brainstorming or problem-solving.
Find an activity that occupies your hands. Try a manicure, needlework or knitting. If you play an instrument, this is a good time for practicing. You won’t be able to snack if your nails have to dry!
Connect with friends. A lack of meaning is often a trigger for boredom. When you’re bored, you don’t feel stimulated or engaged with your environment. Connecting with others who are meaningful to you in a social environment can lessen feelings of boredom.
Get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. A brisk walk or short workout can elevate your mood and boost your energy. The exertion may also help distract you from your urge to eat.
Method 4 of 4: Understanding Boredom and Stress
Learn when boredom can strike. Many things can cause you to feel bored. Standing in line at the grocery store and getting stuck in traffic are common causes for boredom. Individuals with jobs where they perform repetitive tasks and don’t interact with peers may also find themselves bored. In general, people find situations that are time-based more boring than situations that are effort-based. Situations with uncertain rewards or little feedback may also produce boredom.
Be aware of your body. When you’re bored, your body posture and head pose change. People who feel bored often slouch or lean back in their chairs. Their heads may fall forward. Other physical signs of boredom include difficulty keeping your eyes open or a feeling of sleepiness.
Recognize how boredom feels. Boredom is more than not having anything to do. In fact, people feel bored when they want stimulation but can’t connect to what’s around them. Boredom is that feeling of dissatisfaction that comes when you can’t engage with yourself or your environment.
Learn to recognize stress. You might be interpreting stress as “boredom.” Stress may also be causing you to have trouble connecting to your environment, which you may interpret as being in a “boring” situation. If you feel fidgety or irritated or if you have difficulty concentrating or making decisions, you may be experiencing stress.
Recognize procrastination. When you’re worried that you won’t be successful at something you set out to do, you’re more likely to procrastinate. Work-related stress, such as the fear of failing at an important task or looking bad to your superiors, is a common cause of procrastination. If you’re putting off doing something you need to do, you may choose to eat as a form of distraction. Your food diary may help you recognize when you’re eating because you really don’t want to do something else.
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