Have you ever found yourself picking through the fridge only to realize you're not actually hungry? If you have, you're not alone. Most people have caught themselves eating for reasons other than hunger, and for some, it becomes a daily habit that can lead to weight gain and a myriad of other health problems.
So, if you want to know why you're eating even though you aren't hungry, here are seven of the most common reasons.
#1 – You're Emotional Being human means having to manage a wide variety of emotions. And unless you deal with your feelings head on, you will find yourself using destructive defense mechanisms as a way to cope with your unfinished emotional business. And for many people, food can serve as the perfect distraction.
Start keeping a food diary and record how you are feeling each time you eat. If you start to notice a pattern of eating more when you're emotions are high, it might be time to develop some new coping skills. Find healthy alternatives you can use instead of food whenever you're feeling stressed out, sad, angry, etc..
# 2 – You're Bored If you find yourself eating simply because you don't have anything better to do, then you are eating out of boredom. But you can stop this bad habit in its tracks by finding new and healthier ways to entertain yourself. Take this opportunity to find a new hobby, start exercising, connect with old friends, volunteer in your community, or start a blog, for example. If you want to break a bad habit, you have to find a healthy replacement if you want the change to stick.
#3 – You're Tired Most people don't realize just how much their sleeping patterns affect their daily lives. This is especially true when it comes to their eating habits. A lack of sleep quality or quantity can make you feel hungry even though you're not, causing you to overeat. It can also lead to eating sugary treats throughout the day in an attempt to keep energy levels up. So, make it a priority to get at least seven hours of quality sleep every night.
#4 - It's a Habit There's no getting around it, we are creatures of habit. So if you're used to eating lunch everyday at 12pm, you might be doing it out of habit rather than hunger. The key to good nutrition is learning how to listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Don't eat just because it's time to, only eat when you are truly hungry.
Before grabbing a snack or sitting down for mealtime, ask yourself, “am I really hungry right now or should I wait?” If you only eat out of hunger, you will be giving your body what it needs, when it needs it. Also, try to kick the habit of eating after 7pm.
#5 - To Reward Yourself Celebrating accomplishments and milestones with food is a time honored tradition for most cultures around the world, and it's something that is ingrained in us at a very young age. So it's not really surprising that so many people use food as a way to reward themselves. But if you really think about, indulging in sugary or fatty treats isn't very rewarding at all. The truth is, there are plenty of other (healthy) ways to reward yourself for doing something good. Treat yourself to a spa day, get a manicure, or go shopping as a way to celebrate your accomplishments.
#6 - Because It's There Many of us eat when we aren't hungry simply because the food is there. So if you find yourself reaching for that plate of donuts or the candy jar above your desk, think about why you're eating it and if you're really hungry. Also, remove temptation when possible by keeping food out of sight and out of mind. Toss the junk food in your pantry and fridge and replace it with healthy snack food. Also, try preparing healthy, pre-made meals that make it easier to choose something better for your health.
#7 - You're Thirsty Believe it or not, you might be mistaking your thirst for hunger. So before you open that bag of chips, try drinking a tall glass of water to see if that satiates your feelings of hunger. You might be surprised at how much your cravings are reduced by this simple trick. Drinking more water can also help you maintain your weight because the more water you drink, the less likely you are to retain it as water weight.
Final Thoughts It happens to the best of us, sometimes we eat even though we aren't actually hungry. Whether it's out of boredom, emotional eating, or just habitual, overindulging can lead to serious problems down the road. But by figuring out what your relationship with food is and the reasons why you eat (other than hunger), you can start to make changes in your daily life that will result in a healthier and happier you.