Why is it that we eat when we’re not hungry…boredom, comfort? An Australian study has lifted the lid on the reasons that we tuck into food when we’re not really hungry, and it may just help you curb your snacking!
University of Tasmania researchers have explored what triggers us to eat, and incredibly hunger is not the main reason.
Why Do We Eat, Snack And Drink?
The researchers wanted to delve deeper into the reasons we eat, snack and drink – so they followed 50 adults and tracked what things influenced their decision to chow down over 10 days.
What they discovered is that watching other people eat, the availability of food (ever caught yourself eating something ‘just because it’s there‘?!) and negative thoughts all impact our eating habits.
“The most significant findings are probably that it is the environment much more than our hunger (or whatever passes for hunger) that makes us eat,” co-author Dr Benjamin Schüz told The Healthy Mummy. “This highlights how powerful cues to eat are.”
The study found that while things like being in a bad mood can drive us to snack, what’s happening around us seems to be more likely to make us eat.
“The majority of factors are likely external, although it is possible that they interact with both personal traits and current mood. However, as in many other studies, we found social cues – that is, seeing someone else eat – to be very powerful cues to eating.”
Knowledge Is Power!
So can these findings help us keep our snacking under control?
“The most important things are probably to be aware of the power of these cues, and then actively working with them,” Dr Schüz explains. “That is, learning to recognise whether the urge or craving to eat comes from a real need for energy restoring (in which case fruit is probably better than high-sugar stuff anyway), or from encountering a cue or just ‘that time of day’.
“The more we know about the cues that make us eat, and these will differ for everyone, the more we can think about alternatives for these situations. For example, I have resorted to taking an extra apple to work because I know my feet magically transport me to the cafeteria around three. Doesn’t always work, though.”
The study also found that keeping busy and spending time engaging with friends and family can actually help you eat less.
Of course, we’re big advocates of making sure that if you are snacking, it’s the healthy kind!
We have hundreds of healthy snack recipes, and a Healthy Snack Recipe Book that will keep you satisfied without impacting your healthy lifestyle. And joining our 28 Day Challenge is a great way to stay on track and motivated!
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