Eat When You’re Bored? 4 Ways to Stop the Habit Now

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 ¡ª yet again! ¡ª 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 minimeal 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 and 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| but you’ll find yourself eating less when there aren’t outside distractions.

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