Mindless snacking is something that I've done for ages and, unsurprisingly, it can happen anytime or anywhere. I may be at party, working on the computer, or watching The Biggest Loser (oh, the irony). However, it ends up that many of these snacking episodes occur when I'm not hungry at all, but rather bored, distracted, thirsty, or even tired.
When it comes down to it, mindless snacking is simply a bad habit and, as I've learned recently, habits are easier replaced than stopped. With this in mind, I've started consciously asking myself the following questions before reaching for the beef jerky or a bowl of yogurt. My answers are usually pretty revealing and have helped me take control of my mindless eating.
1. Am I truly hungry? Physical signs such as my growling stomach or shaky hands are pretty good clues that it's time to eat.
2. Am I thirsty? Whether the answer is yes or no, I've made it a habit to drink a glass of water.
3. Am I tired? As I can testify firsthand, being sleepy can trigger an array of "give me something to perk me up right now" cravings that range from caffeine to sugar. Usually this happens when I didn't get a good night's sleep the night before. If the answer is yes, I drink a cup of water and then reach for the healthiest snack I can, like a piece of fruit, a cheese stick, or a handful of cherry tomatoes. If I can, I try to take a few moments to just close my eyes with hopes for a quick rejuvenation.
RELATED: Debunk these 15 excuses that cause you to make bad decisions when you're reaching for a bite to eat.
4. Am I simply having a craving? If this answer is yes, I then ask myself: If I eat what I'm craving, will it make me feel better? If I’m craving junk food, I remind myself that empty calories won't satisfy me, and I'll feel worse if I did eat it than if I didn't. Therefore, if my mouth is watering for something like caramel popcorn or my kids' veggie chips, I reassess my choices. I've also made it a habit to read the label. If calories are high or empty, I usually look for a healthier substitute that will satisfy my craving like a low-sugar protein shake.
5. Will my craving fill me up? Sometimes I am hungry (I said yes to question one), but I'm also having a craving for something that might not be the wisest investment. That's when I ask myself this question to prevent overeating but feel satisfied. In these situations I may turn to a fiber-filled snack like an apple with almond butter, or if I have a severe salt craving, I will pop open a pack of Trader Joe's crispy seaweed (only 30 calories!).
Do you have any tricks to satisfying your hunger?