Eating triggers: How to tame temptations

March 2, 2017

Every day you decide what to eat, but you might not understand why you eat.iStock-499746038.jpg

For instance, do you eat only when you're truly hungry or do you sometimes nosh because you're bored or sad or because a tempting TV ad sent you to the fridge?

The answer to those questions can be important—especially if you're trying to lose or maintain weight.

One way to find out is to keep a food journal for a few days. By jotting down what, when and where you eat and how you're feeling at the time, you might spot what drives you to overeat or to choose less-than-healthy foods.

The next step: Finding ways to avoid the triggers. Here are suggestions for three common ones.

Craving comfort
You use food to relieve stress, loneliness and other emotions.

Instead of reaching for food:

  • Get physical—head to the gym, take a walk, weed the garden.
  • Breathe deeply for 5 minutes.
  • Sip a cup of hot tea.
  • Write down what's bothering you.

Tube temptations

You mindlessly munch while watching TV.

  • Eat only in the kitchen or dining room and not in front of the TV.
  • Don't keep hard-to-resist foods, such as sweet or salty snacks, in the house.
  • Ride a stationary bike, do crafts, brush the dog or lift hand weights while you watch TV.

See food, will eat

Smelling and seeing food strips away your willpower.

At a restaurant:

  • Ask the waiter or waitress to remove the bread or chips before the meal.
  • Request a take-home box when you order. Put half your meal in it before you eat.

At home:

  • While cooking, chew sugar-free gum or sip a calorie-free beverage, like water with a slice of lemon.
  • Dish up plates in the kitchen instead of passing food around the table.

 At work:

  • Sit far away from doughnuts or other goodies at a meeting.
  • Keep healthy snacks in your drawer. They can help you avoid the high-calorie offerings in the vending machine.

 Sources: American Heart Association; American Psychological Association; National Institutes of Health

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