Are you hungry? No? Then why are you eating? Yes, you absolutely should keep food in your stomach every four hours or so during throughout the day, but if snacks and unconscious eating rule your day, they’re ruining your diet!
1) The Boredom Eater: You’ve finished a meal and the tank is completely full. A little while later, you’re watching television, sitting in your office, doing some housework or trying to catch up on bills. You’ve taken a mental break from whatever it is you’re doing and now you need something to fill the void. Food sounds good, so you head to the kitchen or nearest vending machine and start pilfering the cabinets. It might only be a handful of peanuts, chips, candy – or even “good-for-you” foods, but you don’t need it. Have a go-to plan for when you’re bored.
2) The Unguarded Eater: You’ve had a streak of good-eating days. Your body feels tighter and your jeans are fitting better. It’s a Friday night. Since your body “responds” so well to diet and exercise, you figure you can splurge a little. The next day, things still look good. The French fries, ice cream or beer haven’t quite made their way to your butt yet. You cave a little more on Saturday and eat a few things you know aren’t the best. By Sunday you’re feeling bloated and vow to hit the gym on Monday. A classic case of one step forward and two steps back.
3) The Stressed Eater: Something is going on that’s throwing your day off-kilter. Maybe the kids are at your heels all day. Maybe you had a bad day in the office. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe the whole family is clamoring for dinner, but you didn’t have time to run to the store. Maybe you found out your taxes returns include no return at all! Regardless, a handful of this or a handful of that can quickly turn into an extra 500+ calories that can add up quick!
Do a quick mental scan of the foods you’re eating outside of planned meals and snacks. If you find you’re mindlessly grabbing at food from the cabinet, you’ve probably developed an unhealthy – but strong – habit of eating for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger.
Stop the Pattern
- If you’re a boredom eater, try to make shift your environment away from the kitchen or source of food. Go for a walk, grab some water, fold some laundry, start a new project. Find anything else to do that doesn’t involve eating.
- If you’re an unguarded eater, don’t rest on your laurels. You look good and feel good because you’ve worked hard and deserve it. Rewarding yourself with a decadent dessert or savory side dish will only stop your momentum. Don’t do it!
- If you’re a stressed eater, try to get to know what your triggers are. We can’t stop all the stress in our life. Our kids will always have “needy” days, bills will always need to get paid, arguments happen, work can be grueling and the day doesn’t always flow the way you want it to. Have a healthy go-to food that you can eat when a day starts going south. Try to eat foods that are LOWER on the GLYCEMIC INDEX. These foods have less of an impact on our blood sugar levels. Unsteady blood sugar levels can actually lead to greater hunger, creating a vicious circle of unhealthy eating.
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Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.