Reflect:

  1. Create a list of your eating habits. Keeping a food diary for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat and the time of day you ate it, will help you uncover your habits.
  2. Highlight the habits on your list that may be leading you to overeat. Common eating habits that can lead to weight gain include eating too fast, al
    • Eating too fast
    • Always cleaning your plate
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Eating while standing up (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly)
    • Always eating dessert
    • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)
  3. Look at the unhealthy eating habits you’ve highlighted. Be sure you’ve identified all the triggers that cause you to engage in those habits. Identify a few you’d like to work on improving first. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for the things you’re doing right. Maybe you almost always eat fruit for dessert, or you drink low-fat or fat-free milk. These are good habits! Recognizing your successes will help encourage you to make more changes.
  4. Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware of when and where you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you are typically feeling at those times. Often an environmental “cue”, or a particular emotional state, is what encourages eating for non-hunger reasons.
  5. Common triggers for eating when not hungry are:
    • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food.
    • Sitting at home watching television.
    • Before or after a stressful meeting or situation at work.
    • Coming home after work and having no idea what’s for dinner.
    • Having someone offer you a dish they made “just for you!”
    • Walking past a candy dish on the counter.
    • Sitting in the break room beside the vending machine.
    • Seeing a plate of doughnuts at the morning staff meeting.
    • Swinging through your favorite drive-through every morning.
    • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up.
  6. Circle the “cues” on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis. Going home for the Thanksgiving holiday may be a trigger for you to overeat, and eventually, you want to have a plan for as many eating cues as you can. But for now, focus on the ones you face more often.
  7. Ask yourself these questions for each “cue” you’ve circled:
    • Is there anything I can do to avoid the cue or situation? This option works best for cues that don’t involve others. For example, could you choose a different route to work to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way? Is there another place in the break room where you can sit so you’re not next to the vending machine?
    • For things I can’t avoid, can I do something differently that would be healthier? Obviously, you can’t avoid all situations that trigger your unhealthy eating habits, like staff meetings at work. In these situations, evaluate your options. Could you suggest or bring healthier snacks or beverages? Could you offer to take notes to distract your attention? Could you sit farther away from the food so it won’t be as easy to grab something? Could you plan ahead and eat a healthy snack before the meeting?

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