How to put a stop to mindless eating

Losing touch with your body's natural hunger and satisfaction signals can lead to chronic overeating — and unhealthy extra kilograms and pounds that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other serious conditions. When Swedish researchers compared the eating habits and weight of 4,359 people, they found a consistent pattern: Overweight people ate more snacks than normal-weight people. And if you snack on junk foods, you're also flooding your body with trans fats and saturated fats, excess sodium and sugars and refined carbohydrates.

How to put a stop to mindless eating

Benefits of switching to healther foods and stopping overeating

  • Your weight will fall to a healthier level.
  • You'll replace unhealthy trans fats, saturated fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates and extra sodium with nutritious, high-fibre fare.

Can I undo it? Yes.

  • With determination, anyone can fix bad eating habits, and anyone can get to a healthier, more natural weight.
  • By acknowledging the psychological issues behind your snacking habits, you'll find that there are other choices besides eating that provide what you need.
  • By paying attention to your hunger signals and switching to healthy snacks, you can boost nutrition, control cravings, lose weight and avoid energy slumps.

Repair Plan

  • Reacquaint yourself with hunger.
  • If you've lost touch with feelings of hunger and of satisfaction, try postponing eating until your stomach is truly hungry and your body is craving fuel.

Put a stop to mindless eating

  • If snacking is simply a long-held bad habit that helps you get through the day's routine, it's time to ban chips, ice cream, pretzels and all other snack food from every room except the kitchen or lunchroom.
  • If you can't take a break, and chewing and drinking are comforting to you, turn to sugarless gum and tea or ice-cold water to satisfy your needs.

Before you eat, rate your hunger on a 1-to-10 scale

  • On the hunger scale, 1 is "starving, feeling light-headed"; 5 is "comfortable"; and 10 as "so full I feel sick."
  • Your goal: Eat only when you reach a 3.

Stop eating well before you're stuffed

  • Finish when you reach a 6 on the hunger scale — just a little bit full. You'll eat less — and be truly hungry again in time for your next meal or snack.

Satisfy emotional hunger the right way

  • So much of snacking is related to stress, boredom, even sadness or depression.
  • If you need a psychological boost, don't turn to chocolate.
  • Treat yourself to relaxation or fun: Take a walk, call a friend or make plans to socialize.
  • Express anger, frustration, sadness and other emotions to a confidant, a journal or the person who's triggering your feelings.

Plan snacks like real meals.

  • Try healthy, high-fibre fruits and fresh vegetables such as baby carrots or cherry tomatoes, and for a more substantial snack, perhaps some whole-grain crackers with a dab of peanut butter.
  • Put your snack on a plate, pour a glass of water or a cup of tea, and sit at the table to enjoy it.

Replace junk food with real food.

  • Throw away chips, crackers, cookies and candy.
  • Instead, stock fruits, veggies, whole-grain crackers, nuts and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • Make your snacks beneficial to your health.
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