Identifying the situations that trigger poor eating habits can help you develop strategies to overcome them. Do any of these areas trip you up? Try these simple solutions to inspire healthy changes in your everyday life.
When you watch TV or read, do you always have a snack at hand? Do you eat at your desk while you work or while you’re preparing dinner? It’s all too easy to take in excess calories without realizing it. To change your habits, keep track of everything you eat — and where and when you eat it — for a few days. It can be eye-opening! Once you become more aware of your snacking, you may find it easier to stop the nibbling or substitute other behaviors for it.
Are there some foods that you can’t eat in moderation, such as cookies or potato chips? Do you find that the sight or smell of certain foods tempts you to overeat? Keep exposure to these foods to a minimum. Don’t keep tempting treats at home — if it’s in the house, it’s in your mouth! However, don’t deny yourself your favorites, either. Portion out a small amount — but not when you’re overly hungry, so you’ll be more likely to take more. Split a favorite treat with a friend when eating out, or buy yourself a small portion every couple of weeks.
Time of day
Are there certain times of the day when you’re more susceptible to overeating? Do you crave a snack after work or a late-night bowl of ice cream? Identify your vulnerable times of day. If hunger is a factor, keep yourself well-stocked with handy healthy foods, such as mandarin oranges, walnuts or whole-wheat crackers. If eating at certain times is simply a habit, find a substitute, such as a cup of chamomile tea or a relaxing bath.
Do you eat more when you’re around certain people? Do you snack anytime your partner does? Do social outings lead to nonstop noshing? Social eating patterns can undermine weight-loss efforts. Recognize where and when social influence plays a role in your eating habits and decide what you want to change. Keep in mind that you can affect when and what others eat as well — take the lead!
Does skipping breakfast cause you to lose control of your eating? When you’re tired, do you turn to junk food for energy? Following your meal plan — including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — can help keep hunger under control. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep helps with weight management, too.
Do certain feelings cause you to snack — boredom, loneliness, stress or anxiety? Do you use certain foods to self-soothe? Learn to separate food from mood. Monitor your mood and strive to distinguish true hunger from emotion-driven eating. When emotions are high, use other coping strategies, such as calling a friend or taking a walk.