Things to do, aside from eating, when you're truly not hungry.
We've all been there - we know we truly are not hungry but we just want to eat something!
That being said, this blog is not intended to be used to distract yourself from eating when you really are hungry. Food is what fuels our bodies and balanced meals and snacks are an important part of helping us live our best and healthiest lives!
If you are hungry and are looking for some resources to help you get in food that is delicious and nutritious, check out some of our other blog posts, like:
Eating is complex though! It is necessary for survival but it is also tied to emotions, memories, routines, you name it! So why do we sometimes find ourselves staring in the pantry or fridge for something to eat when we know it is not hunger that brought us there?
Why do we want to eat when we are not hungry?
We can have the desire to eat food, even when we are not hungry, for a variety of reasons. For example, we may turn to food out of stress or if we are looking to increase positive feelings. We may also eat in the absence of hunger because of environmental influences, like watching food advertisements (1).
With so many factors potentially influencing us to eat when we do not need more energy, what are some things we can do other than eat? We have compiled a list of options for you to consider the next time you recognize wanting to eat without truly being hungry!
Things you can do when you are not hungry:
Drink water - Sometimes when we feel hungry, we are actually dehydrated. You need about half your weight in fluid ounces to stay hydrated. (If your doctor or healthcare professional has told you something else, follow their instructions!) Downing a glass of water may be just what you need. Not a fan of plain water? Try adding citrus slices to your water or have your favorite carbonated water! If you find yourself thirsty despite drinking enough water, you may want to consider an oral rehydration beverage (Nuun is our favorite!).
Get more sleep - Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep EVERY night. Easier said than done and it may not always be feasible to get more sleep (we see you, parents and caregivers!). You can try working in a power or cat nap.
Stretch - This does not need to be anything fancy or super-organized. Just stand up and stretch it out for a few minutes.
Take a shower - If showers are not relaxing, you can also try taking a bath.
Have a cup of herbal tea -There are countless herbal tea flavors out there, try a few to find one that you enjoy. The key is choosing a tea that does not contain caffeine (most herbal teas!).
Journal - You can journal about why you may be feeling the desire to eat, even if you are not hungry. You can also journal about things other than food! It is your journal, write about what you want. Getting your thoughts out on paper can help your mind complete the thought cycle.
Meditate - This can be a great way to clear your mind of thoughts related and unrelated to food. It can take some practice. Do not be discouraged if your first couple of meditation sessions feel challenging.
Go for a walk - It can be outside, inside the office, or around your favorite store. Pick a place you feel comfortable and safe and enjoy a nice stroll.
Text a friend you have been meaning to check in with - It can be fulfilling to let someone know you are thinking about them and may also check an item off your to-do list!
Paint your nails or go get a manicure - It is hard to eat with wet polish on your nails. Not to mention, having freshly painted nails can be a total mood changer!
Watch an episode you have been meaning to get to - Now watching TV is often tied with snacking so try to find something else to occupy your hands - like coloring, knitting, or folding laundry.
Play a video game - This can occupy your mind and your hands! Try setting a timer because it can be quite easy to get lost in a game.
Putting it all together:
These ideas are just a starting point. There are numerous things you could do to help take your mind off of eating when you are not hungry. We encourage you to take this list and make it your own by trying different things out and adding what works for you.
If you struggle with identifying true hunger, find yourself eating when you really are not hungry, and are looking for guidance to make sure you meet your nutritional needs without overdoing it, reach out to us at The Functional Kitchen! You can schedule your clarity call today by clicking here!
1. Sorensen MD, Arlinghaus KR, Ledoux TA, Johnston CA. Integrating Mindfulness Into Eating Behaviors. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2019;13(6):537-539. Published 2019 Aug 15. doi:10.1177/1559827619867626