Today marks day 16 I have been stuck in my house. One of the hardest things about being inside is the constant snacking. Food is just so accessible and it’s practically within arm’s reach at all times. So, whether I am bored, stressed, or just because I see it, I find myself wanting to snack.
And I am pretty sure I am not alone here. The top question my clients keep emailing me is ‘how can I stop snacking when I am bored?’
I have been interviewed for at least five news stories over the past week on how to prevent overeating when stuck at home or how to stop overeating when bored or stressed. So I know we are all struggling here.
But since I often work from home, this idea of being ‘stuck in the house’ is not new to me. Heck with three kids age six and under, there are lots of times we are ‘stuck’ in the house because it’s just easier than packing them all up to go somewhere.
That’s why I wanted to share my top tips to stop overeating when bored or stressed with you so you can worry about one less thing right now.
7 Ways to Stop Overeating When Bored or Stressed
#1 Set a schedule and stick with it
The #1 thing you can do to prevent weight gain during this time is to get yourself on a schedule. Have a consistent routine every day. Wake up the same time. Have a set time for meals and snacks, schedule in daily exercise, and have a regular bedtime. This will cut down on impulse eating and grazing throughout the day.
#2 Practice mindful eating to prevent overeating when bored
When eating, be mindful. Put your food on a plate, sit down in a chair, and eat at a table without distractions. By avoiding eating on the run & forcing yourself to be present when eating, you will find you eat slower and feel more satisfied with a smaller portion. One tool I recommend to help with improving mindful eating is the app Noom, which I have found many of my clients to have success with. Plus, right now they are offering the app completely FREE for 30 days! It is definitely worth checking out to help you improve your behavior surrounding eating.
#3 Use my baggie trick to stop overeating and mindless munching
If you tend to ‘graze’ on food during the day, use my baggie trick. Every time you reach for a food on impulse, put it into a small plastic baggie. When you truly see how many ‘bites’ add up during the day, it makes you more aware and helps to cut down on the impulse eating.
#4 Identify your top stressors to prevent overeating
If you find you are eating due to stress, recognize the times of day your stress is highest. Then make a list of all the activities (other than food) that help to calm you. Maybe it’s taking a walk outside, reading a book, or calling a friend. Then when you find yourself reaching for food due to stress, look at your list of stress-busting activities and pick one to do right then to help curb the desire to eat.
#5 Drink at least 8 cups of water per day
When you get thirsty, the brain can misinterpret thirst as hunger. This leads to an increased desire to snack, even when you aren’t’ actually hungry. Every time you want to snack, sip on a glass of water first. If after drinking, you are still hungry, then it was a true hunger and you should eat. But if the feeling passes, chances are you were just thirsty instead.
#6 Keep a food journal
Did you know that people who write down what they eat lose 20% more weight than people who do not keep a journal? Regardless of if you are trying to lose weight, keeping a food journal is a great way to identify when you are snacking a bit too much. When you write down what you eat, it makes you more mindful and more present. You start to realize when you are taking ‘bites’ of things here and there. And you notice when you are eating foods you didn’t even want or like, just because they were there. Whether you keep a journal on your phone, a notebook, or whiteboard you erase at the end of the day, the act of tracking can help to prevent overeating when bored or stress more than almost anything else.
#7 Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself right now. Being quarantined in your home isn’t a typical situation. It’s an incredibly unusual and stressful situation. You can’t get access to all of the foods you normally eat right now. Your support system has shifted. It is OK if you aren’t following your meal plan to the letter. It is OK if you eat a bit differently or your weight shifts a bit. This is a temporary situation. Set the bar a little lower for yourself right now and focus on wellness over body weight. Move your body more than you sit. Eat as many nutrient rich foods as you can. Get plenty of sleep. Drink plenty of water. And have at least one meaningful conversation with someone you love (in person or on the phone) every day. That’s more important than the number on the scale right.
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