Eating when you are not hungry is a very common problem. If food is meant to fuel your body, then why do we reach for food when our body has already had plenty of fuel? Follow along as I share some reasons I’ve found make me reach for food when I’m not hungry. With each reason I will share some helpful tips for how to get past these reasons and say no to the food you aren’t hungry for.
First step: Acknowledge what is causing you to eat when you are not hungry. Next step: Figure out how to solve that problem. It sounds simple, but if you employ this tactic every time you are reaching food and not hungry you will notice a difference.
One of my biggest reasons for eating when not hungry is because I’m bored. I am sitting at home with nothing to do other than watch TV and I want something to break up that monotony. So I get off the couch, walk to the pantry, and pull out a snack to satisfy my boredom. The problem with this is that 1) I’m not hungry and 2) my boredom isn’t satisfied for very long.
Good news, there’s a way to stop this behavior! Find something to do other than eat. When I realized one of my reasons for eating when I am not hungry was that I am bored I decided to find a new hobby. I wanted to find something that I enjoy. What I decided was that I enjoy reading and wellness. Reading is easy to turn into an activity, but for wellness I needed to find a way to enjoy it. What I decided was to come up with this blog! I have been so happy to find something I enjoy doing and I can’t remember the last time I ate out of boredom.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
I think this is one of the biggest reasons I reach for food when I am not hungry. This happens a lot of times when I am at work or with others and they offer me food even though I am not hungry. Or maybe I am at my parents and they have something that I never eat at home. Sometimes I don’t even like the food so I decline, but if it is something I like, I am likely to accept the food even though I’m not even hungry. This behavior is the trickiest to avoid.
The first step is to ask myself whether I am hungry when they offer the food. If I am hungry, then it is perfectly acceptable to accept the food. If I am not hungry it is very difficult to say no if it’s one of my favorites. The key is practice. You need to keep telling yourself that you should not eat if you are not hungry. I have been able to get better at avoiding eating because of FOMO, but I am still not perfect. Make sure not to give up for good if you do give in. Sometimes it is OK to indulge a little bit if you’ve made healthy choices the rest of the day, but don’t go overboard. Another way to avoid this behavior is to not put yourself in the situation. This isn’t very plausible, but if you have a really big problem it’s something to consider.
Another reason I reach for food even though I’m not hungry is because I’m angry. I might be angry with myself or angry with someone else. Sometimes I reach for it because food can increase endorphins and put me in a better mood. Sometimes I reach for it because I am angry with something I did and I am trying to punish myself. I am very hard on myself Not a very healthy habit….but I am working on it.
The best way to solve this problem is to find a healthier outlet for your anger. There are so many ways to relieve anger other than eating. One way is exercise. Exercise also increases endorphins and puts you in a better mood. Another way is meditation. Meditation calms the body and allows you to let everything go. Finally sometimes it is helpful to journal. Journaling helps you get your thoughts out on paper and allows you to work yourself out of the anger.
The next emotion that leads to eating when you are not hungry is sadness. Sadness can put you in a dark place where all you want is to feel better. One thing that you think will make you feel better is salty, crispy chips or chewy, gooey brownies. Those will make you feel better in the moment, but afterwards you will feel awful.
Sadness is similar to anger. Your mind is so focused on whatever is causing you sadness or anger, and you are looking for anything to make you feel better. So, exercise, meditation, and journaling are very helpful to reduce cravings when you feel sad.
Stress is another emotion that causes your mind to crave food when you aren’t hungry. Just like with sadness and anger, your mind is focused on one thing. You can’t stop thinking about a rough day at work or an upcoming project. All you want to do is finding something easy to take your mind off of the emotion and make you feel better.
But don’t reach for food! Again, get out and exercise, practice meditation, or write out all of your feelings until you feel better.
The final reason we reach for food that I am going to talk about is hunger. Eating is OK when you are hungry, so don’t stress too much over not reaching for food at all! Focus on food as fuel and you will be good!
To recap, emotions are a big factor in reaching for food when you are not hungry. If you are mindful, you can get past these emotions and leave the food for fueling your body.
First, acknowledge why you are reaching for food.
Next, find a way to solve that problem that isn’t food.