Whether it's a handful of roasted nuts or a few chips here and there, mindless snacking when you're not even hungry or after you've just eaten a meal is not going to help your weight loss efforts.
While snacks are encouraged between meals, mindless munching — especially munching on unhealthy snacks — is not. So the next time you get the urge to snack when you're either bored or stressed, try to do any of these things before you head to the kitchen.
Expand your friendship, not your waist size. If you have a friend you can easily talk to for at least 15–20 minutes, give him or her a call the next time you feel like raiding your kitchen cupboards. Not only will the chit-chat make you forget about the mindless eating for a bit, but you may also realize that you're not actually hungry. Calling up a friend before you start munching might get you into the habit of assessing whether you're truly hungry or just bored before you consume the extra calories.
Keep a magazine or book lying around the kitchen so that when you find yourself in there looking for something delicious, you see it. Read a chapter or a couple of articles. If you're actually hungry after you're done reading, then go for the snack. If not, keep reading, and leave the kitchen.
Consider doing a few stretches or core-strengthening exercises with a yoga ball. After 15 minutes of this mini exercise session, you may decide you aren't hungry at all. Your mini exercise doesn't have to be extravagant or make you work up a sweat, but it will definitely make you mindful of why you're replacing the calories you just burned.
Sometimes when I eat lunch or dinner too late, I notice I end up eating more than on the days when I do eat on time. If you eat later than you're used to, you will tend to overeat because you're more hungry. Be sure to eat on time to avoid greater feelings of hunger. If you're stuck at work and can't take a break until later, eat a quarter or half of your lunch at your desk so that when you finish eating it later, you're not wandering to the cafeteria for extra snacks.
Having snacks between your meals is actually encouraged, as it keeps your metabolism engaged and leaves you less likely to overeat during lunch or dinner. However, there's a difference between grabbing an apple between meals and having several unhealthy snacks between meals. You are welcome to eat a snack; just be sure it is healthy and actually snack size. This means that bag of chips or two cookies are out of the question as healthy snacks. If your snack is the size of your main meal, it's not a snack. Vegetables and dip, non-fat yogourt, an apple, a handful of almonds or whole-grain crackers are great snack choices.
Ultimately just be mindful of what you are eating and how often you are eating. Be in tune with your body, and ask yourself if you're actually hungry or just bored or stressed. If you're bored, stressed or procrastinating, step away from the fridge, and find something else to do that doesn't involve eating! It's all about balance.
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