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“Control your munchies”
Hunger is an important and powerful urge. When we are hungry, it’s time to eat. In order for any fat loss program to be successful, we have to respect this sensation and respond appropriately to it. If the diet you are attempting leads you to be chronically hungry then you are not likely to stick to it.
Real hunger is a good reason to eat, but far too often we eat for other reasons. Habit, boredom, and emotional triggers all lead us to eat when we aren’t really hungry. One way to deal with this is to minimizing exposure to situations you know lead to over or unhealthy eating. Another is having strategies to make this eating healthier when it does occur.
Boredom is often a downfall for those trying to control their eating. I find that I usually have no real urge to snack between meals during the day when I am busy, but evenings at home can be a problem, especially long, dark, winter ones. We’ve probably all had the experience of wandering into the kitchen and looking in the fridge even though we weren’t really hungry at the time. One way I deal with this is that after the dinner dishes are cleaned up, I make a conscious decision to stay out of the kitchen.
Having a cup of tea is another thing I often do in the evening instead of snacking when I want a pick me up. On a related note, dehydration is often confused with hunger and drinking a tall glass of water can often satisfy the urge to snack. Sometimes just getting out of the house and taking a short walk makes me forget about food and it almost always makes me feel better.
Perhaps the biggest danger to those trying to keep good eating habits is television watching. TV combines boredom, mindlessness, and the trigger to eat when watching fast food commercials. Using your DVR to fast forward through commercials can be a good idea, as is not going into the kitchen during them.
Another strategy for TV watching is to have a supply of sliced up vegetables ready. Even if you mindlessly munch on them all evening you can’t go too far wrong. Of course, deciding to watch less television is always an option. Numerous studies have correlated obesity with amount of television watching and established that decreased TV time leads to increased activity.
Mindless eating can sabotage any eating program, so it’s important to plan ahead and avoid situations that lead to it. It’s also important to understand that real hunger should be respected. If your diet is leaving you with real cravings then you need to rethink what you’re doing, but if you’re eating for entertainment then making steps to minimize this can help you to get and stay lean permanently.