Eating is a vital and enjoyable part of everyday life, but can be a problem when not done in response to hunger. It sounds logical to only eat when we are hungry and stop when we have had our fill, but thanks to external factors such as stress, it is not always that straightforward.
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Food is supposed to give us the fuel we need for our minds and bodies, but can also turn into a way to escape stress or fill an emotional void. However, there are ways to avoid compulsive eating for the sake of comfort.
1. Minimize The Distractions
According to studies, it takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for the brain to send out the signal to the rest of your body that you are full. If your brain is distracted by other things you could end up eating for much longer without realizing that you actually had enough already.
2. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes when we think we are hungry and start reaching for the snacks it might actually just be a case of thirst. By staying hydrated and drinking a glass of water when experiencing comfort food cravings you can stave off those calories.
Since drinking water fills the stomach it is an effective way to keep snack cravings at bay.
3. Keep It Classy
Instead of eating a meal or snack straight out of the bag or container take the time to create a classier presentation. For example, using a plate not only looks more dignified, but also makes it easier to exercise better portion control.
This way your body will know that after you have eaten everything on the plate, the meal or snack is over.
4. Take Your Time
When eating, it is also important to take your time and not gorge yourself on the food. This ties in with the fact that it takes about 20 minutes to recognize that you have had your fill.
Instead, take your time with the meal and savor every bite by chewing thoroughly. Focus on not taking another bite until you have swallowed everything in your mouth.
5. Steer Clear Of Trigger Foods
Keeping snacks around that you know will trigger cravings is tempting fate, so ensure that you have none of them in your house or at least not within sight.
To ensure that you don’t stock up on all kinds of unhealthy snacks when shopping, only go to the shops when sated.
6. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
One of the reasons why we tend to crave more food is due to lack of sleep. Studies have found that depriving our bodies of enough sleep releases a hormone called ghrelin which increases our appetite.
Ghrelin levels can be decreased by getting at least seven hours of sleep. Doing so also has the advantage of increasing the levels of the leptin hormone in our bodies, which burns fat and suppresses appetite.
7. Be Gentle With Your Body
Despite our best intentions there are times when we inevitably slip up and binge on comfort eating. While it is easy to feel like a failure and resent yourself when this occurs, you don’t have to berate yourself.
Instead, recognize that you are doing your best and that one small mistake is not the end of the world. Focusing on the negative will only make matters worse, so be gentle with yourself and resolve to do better next time.
8. Take Your Mind Off Food
Sometimes comfort eating is simply a pattern which you can break by taking your mind off food. If you find yourself suddenly developing cravings, get up and do something that will distract you.
For example, go outside and get some fresh air or get in your car and go for a drive. Exercise is also a great way to take your mind off food and very healthy too.
9. Don’t Ever Starve Yourself
Simply not eating might sound like the easiest way to diet, but it is not a good idea at all. By denying yourself food you are simply setting up your body for binging.
Resisting temptation is much easier if your body is not starving for food. By eating smaller meals, more regularly, your appetite will be reduced and you won’t end up with cravings.
10. Brush Your Teeth After Eating
Brushing your teeth after each meal is not only good for preventing cavities, but can help to safeguard you against those comfort food cravings as well. There are various theories about why this is so effective, from your brain being tricked into thinking it has digested something sweet to the toothpaste acting as a palette cleanser.
Whatever the reason is, it is a great trick for avoiding snack cravings.