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Before you pick up a snack, it helps to think for a minute about whether or not you are really hungry. For many people, nothing more than boredom can trigger their appetite, and they subconsciously go to the kitchen for a snack without even realizing that they may not have been hungry in the first place. A few minutes of contemplation can end up making a major difference in whether or not you decide to continue to eat. You don't need to eat every few hours; you really should only eat when you're truly hungry. The key is to find the right balance and not eat when you're starving, but also avoid eating when you are full or just somewhat hungry. Try to differentiate between the times that you are actually hungry, and the times that you want to eat out of boredom.
Dehydration is a common cause of hunger for many people, but most of us aren't even aware that we might be dehydrated. If you aren't drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, there is a chance that you may be experiencing mild to moderate dehydration, and although you don't need to necessarily drink water when you're not thirsty, you should definitely try drinking water when you're hungry. For many people, drinking water alleviates the sensation of being hungry, and it can end up being a great way to keep excess calories off when you actually aren't hungry. It's even more important to do this after a meal; some meals are high in sodium and your body may just be craving water rather than more food. Try to keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day and drink it, and your calorie intake will also be lower overall.
It seems obvious, but staying busy will help you avoid eating out of boredom and keep those excess calories off. Try to identify the times of day that you don't have much to do and schedule activities during those times. Instead of staying in you might go to the gym or talk a walk. Do whatever you can to keep yourself occupied, and then when you actually do need to eat there's a much better chance that you will actually be hungry. You can also keep a diary of the times that you eat and what you ate during each particular meal. It will help you identify the meals during your day that are excess, and the more detailed that you keep your food diary the easier it will be to identify the unnecessary meals.
Eating and watching TV can quickly become a bad habit that leads to excess weight gain. The TV basically grabs your attention while you scarf down food and you can pretty easily eat a lot more than you need to. It doesn't mean that you should avoid watching TV, but you should definitely avoid eating while watching TV if you know that it is one of your weaknesses that has led to weight gain in the past. If you are going to eat something when watching TV, make sure that it is healthy and portion out your servings so you don't overeat without thinking. Some people may have to forgo eating and watching TV altogether if it really becomes a problem, but most of the time this bad habit can be managed by planning out your food choices and thinking about what you are eating.
When you eat out of boredom, you are more likely to crave a particular food like chocolate or popcorn rather than food that will actually satisfy you. If you are bored and you find yourself craving a specific food, alarm bells should go off and you should avoid eating at that particular moment. This can take a bit of practice, and again you will have to learn how to really take a moment to pause before you pick up a food or start making a snack. If you find yourself craving a particular food, try drinking water and waiting, and the chances are that your craving will disappear. Also it helps to simply not have those foods available in your house, which leads us to the next tip.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid eating out of boredom is to simply avoid having unhealthy foods in your home. Eating when you are bored isn't as bad as eating something unhealthy when you're bored. It's both the bad habit of eating when you don't really need to, and eating something that isn't good anyway that leads to the most weight gain. You can take care of one of these problems by simply only having healthy organic foods available in your home. This takes a bit of care when you are shopping, and you may need to change your diet a bit to find the healthy foods that you really enjoy, but once you've cleared your fridge and pantry of the junk you'll find that it's a lot easier to eat healthy. Even when you're bored it won't be a big deal to pick up an apple, orange or handful of nuts, and you won't regret the decision.
At the end of the day, you do need to snack regularly to keep your metabolism going and it isn't always a bad thing. Snacking only becomes a problem when it occurs way too often, or when you actually gain weight as a result of it. The key to avoiding weight gain is to snack on something that is actually good for you. If you feeling a craving, drink water and if you find that you're still hungry, go ahead and eat a healthy snack. Eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables won't lead to weight gain, even if you eat them when you're bored, so you can satisfy your cravings without having to avoid eating altogether. If you eat healthy foods most of the time and still find that you are gaining weight, you will definitely need to change up your eating habits, but for most people eating healthy whole foods when snacking will help tremendously.