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Old 05-08-2012, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Breaking mindless food habits

I know I'm a boredom eater. I can feel the fake hunger come on at work when I'm not occupied with a task, but I'm generally able to make the feeling go away with some water and a trip to the locker room to do some wall pushups (my new boredom-buster).

Unfortunately, I've had a much tougher time breaking my habit of eating while watching TV. I could be completely stuffed from a recent meal, but if I watch TV I'll still find my way to the fridge for something to eat. Generally, I manage to stick to relatively healthy foods like fruit, nuts or string cheese, but it's still calories I don't need and often leads to me being uncomfortably full. It's easy for me to go 3-500kcal over my limit just from TV-time snacking.

Other than giving up TV–I consider it a real hobby and enjoy it too much to completely abstain–what tricks do you all have for breaking the mental link between watching TV and snacking?

Last edited by Kahokkuri; 05-08-2012 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:45 AM   #2
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Sounds like you found the best way then - to keep on snacking, but doing it with lower calorie foods. Other than that, I can't think of anything else? If it is working for you though, that's great. Otherwise-if it helps, I used to make room for food habits that I was not willing to give up, then I changed my ways (1 way at a time) and it was horrible for 2 weeks and then its fine. I found that the thought of letting go, even temporarily is a lot scarier than actually doing it-the worst thing that can happen is that I still go back to my old ways. The past me would have been like WTF at my diet/activity now.

I listened to my gut and it said "You could do with less of me."
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:48 AM   #3
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Along the same lines I never realized how much I eat my 3-year-old's leftovers. Since I've become mindful of it, it shocks me how many times I've gone to reach for food without even thinking. I'll catch myself and not eat it, because I'm not hungry! I can't even imagine how many extra calories I used to consume doing that!

Maybe you could take up knitting or crocheting to keep you busy while watching tv. Or paint your nails. Do jumping jacks during the commercials. Or make it a rule you can only eat things like celery that won't hurt your calorie intake.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:49 AM   #4
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I've been struggling with this for a long time. At my parents it's even associated with a particular room, at my place it's just when I'm watching TV. So I'm gonna tell you my dirtly little secret...and that is that I play World of Warcraft lol. I know...it's horrible. BUT - I play it while I watch TV and it's a good distraction from food. I get engrossed in doing whatever in the game and it tricks my mind into forgetting about food. So, I'm not suggesting you go out and buy WoW or anything, but the main idea is to do something distracting that requires even the tiniest bit of brain power..but also something u can do and still watch TV. Maybe some sort of craft? Or even just browse the web. Something like pinterest is good b/c it doesn't take too much of your attention to look at pretty pictures. Reading an article would defeat the purpose b/c u can't really watch TV and read an article (at least I can't) I discovered that the reason I ate was boredom..my hands and brain weren't that busy when just watching TV and food cured that, but there are definitely other things you can do to satisfy that need hope it helps!

EDIT:: I thought of one more thing after I posted. This might not stop the craving for snacks, but brush your teeth. Most people won't want to put anything in their mouth when its minty fresh and clean. It helps strengthen my will power against cravings b/c i don't want my teeth to get dirty again and b/c things tend to not taste as good with mint mixed in, but it may or may not work for you.

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Old 05-08-2012, 12:23 PM   #5
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I found with myself that I don't eat during the TV show, but during the commercials I would get up and get a snack. I found that if I had my laptop on my lap during commercials and was using facebook, youtube or pinterest, then I busied myself during the commercials and didn't get up to go to the kitchen.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:26 PM   #6
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Recently, I tried I walking during the program (around the room or in place) while the show is on and sitting during the commercials. It helps a lot and I get more exercise.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #7
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Eat dinner instead of having a snack while you watch TV? That worked for me, with varying success (as you know sometimes I'd walk 3 miles to Trial and two 7-11s to buy binge food and then binge in front of the TV).

Also I know you're not a fan of stuffing yourself with liquid but if you drink a gallon of tea while you watch, you're still not eating...
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:47 PM   #8
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I plan my foods and snacks out ahead of time and just eat on my plan. There is no wandering into the fridge for things because I've already figured it out.

I originally had to set times for myself (breakfast 8:30am, snack 11am, lunch 1pm, snack 4pm, dinner 6:30pm, snack 9pm) but now my body seems to get hungry at right times.
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Old 05-08-2012, 01:20 PM   #9
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Totally guilty of mindless eating.. I am certain it is how I put on most of my weight. Boredom eating, stress eating, or any form of eating when I am not even hungry. Did it all the time!!

Besides sheer determination this time, I also go with the brushing your teeth. I either do this or I now have a supply of mints in the house as well. Anything like toothpaste or lifesaver mint type of thing keeps me from eating, because anything will taste funny after that.

Once you start breaking the habit it truly doesn't seem like long before forming the new habit of not eating. When I first started this time I had a supply of skinny cow ice cream in the freezer, DH and I would enjoy one like 3 nights a week to feel like we got that evening snack in. Now, I have 3 boxes of them in the freezer and we haven't touched one in 3 weeks. We're getting used to not eating anything after dinner. It's just hard to get started in the right direction.

So my best advice would be, mint up your mouth. LOL Do something to stay busy while watching TV, and maybe come up with a limit on how many days you're allowing yourself to snack at night, and have only a few select things you can eat, and then slowly cut back on the number of days.
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Last edited by DaugT; 05-08-2012 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:23 PM   #10
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My solution is to not watch much TV, but I know that wouldn't work for everyone. I'm often working in the evenings (either on assignments or my own writing). I work from home, so my mindless eating tends to occur during the daytime and consist of grabbing handfuls of crackers or tortilla chips. My solution to THAT problem is to buy these things only intermittently. Always a work in progress.

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Old 05-08-2012, 04:12 PM   #11
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Can you stick to things like Celery or Cucumber that are super low cal?

I also took up knitting for a while.

I also am usually using the laptop while I watch what little TV that I watch.

For a while I used the treadmill while watching an hour of TV in the evening its hard to eat and walk at the same time.
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Old 05-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #12
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Great suggestions here!

I agree with planning out what you will eat for the day ahead of time, if you can. I count calories, so I figure out what I will have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then see how many calories I have left for snacking. Then I think about that and see that I have enough for 2 pieces of string cheese, or a small bowl of nuts, or as many fresh-cut veggies as I want (within reason ), and when hunger hits (or a snack attack) I already know how much I can "afford" for the day.

Alternatively, if you don't want to snack at all and are trying to break the habit, find something else to do with your hands and/or mouth while you watch TV. Drink tea, or chew gum, or toss a Koosh ball around, or pick up cat's cradle, or pet the dog, or something. When your hands/mouth are satisfied that they have something to do while you watch TV, they won't be idle and you won't be so tempted to fill the void with food. Gum is the best way for me to avoid snacking - you get to chew without all the calories.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:30 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the advice! I just got a chance to look at this thread and I appreciate all the input. I use my laptop while watching TV, but I manage to snack at the same time, too.

I'm going to try brushing my teeth after dinner to see if that doesn't dissuade me
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:37 AM   #14
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I was a boredom eater too. In some ways I'm glad that's what my issue with food was! I see the struggle that so many have with food emotionally and while boredom eating can be difficult to overcome, I think it's much easier to deal with than emotional triggers.

Keeping track of what I ate was a big deterrent. Even now when I'm bored and want something, I say "um no, that is a waste of calories."

When I'm bored now I drink something: tea, water, sometimes diet soda. I find hot tea to be the best thing to remove the desire to eat. The only thing with this is that if I have a very slow day I will be constantly running to the bathroom from all the boredom drinking
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:46 AM   #15
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Thank you for posting such great ideas. I am already learning a lot from just logging on.
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