Not hungry but you want to eat? Eating one meal a day to try to lose weight?
We’ll show you our ten best ways for how to stop food cravings when you’re not hungry, so you can get back to the shape you want.
We’ll share top weight loss secrets, as well as answer questions around skipping meals, foods that kill hunger, and shrinking your stomach (or not, as it turns out).
Read on, and see which reasons for eating when you’re not hungry apply to you. (And what to do about it!)
1. Am I Hungry or Am I Bored?
How Hungry Am I on a Scale of 1 to 10
Find out what you’re really hungry for, or if you’re even hungry at all.
How hungry are you on a scale of 1 to 10?
For this scale, one means full and ten means famished.
I Eat When I’m Bored
We often eat when we’re bored. Try a few clever tactics to distract yourself from snacking.
Keep a puzzle book next to the fridge and do a quick Sudoku, call a friend, or do a mini-workout.
I Eat Out of Habit
We also eat out of habit. if you show up in front of the fridge at 4 pm for that afternoon snack, you are training your body to want to munch at that time, whether you’re genuinely hungry or not.
However don’t wait till you’re at level 11. if you’re ravenously hungry, you’ll be more likely to reach for the first thing available.
2. I Really Want Something But I Don’t Know What (Hint: It Might Not Be Food)
Ask the Food
Ask yourself (or the food) to give you what you really want. Often it’s a form of emotional comfort. Can you get that from a chocolate pudding? Ask it and you’ll see…not.
Instead, engage in some quick physical activity such as a brisk walk or run. And if emotional eating is a problem for you, there are many trained therapists who specialize in supporting those of us with eating issues.
3. I Eat When I’m Stressed
What are the consequences of eating when you’re not hungry?
Remember what happens when you give in.
It isn’t about berating yourself, it’s about remembering that you deserve to feel great — inside and out.
One of the biggest consequences of eating when you’re not hungry is added stress, which creates more problems as stress has been linked to increased fat.
Laugh More, Eat Less
Laughter therapy is a great stress-buster. And remember to congratulate yourself on what you do well. A gratitude journal is a great way to record your successes.
4. I Just Want a Taste of Something
We often crave “mouth feel,” in other words, the need to taste something just for the pleasure of it.
This is where drinking water can work well — just be sure to drink water BEFORE meals, not during and not after. This is because you don’t want to dilute the digestive juices in the stomach.
Not only does drinking water give you a bit of “mouth feel” (even more if you add a squeeze of lemon or lime), but it helps reduce appetite. You could also make flavored water by infusing it with some cucumber or mint.
Chewing gum works great too! Chewing gum has also been shown to help reduce appetite.
Other ways to not eat when you’re not hungry include deep breathing, talking to kids, watching cute cat videos, taking a shower, etc. They’re all great options if you want to know how to prevent yourself from eating when you don’t want to.
5. I’m Really Hungry All the Time
Eat More Protein-Rich Foods
Add more protein to your diet. Frequent protein consumption has helped people (men, in this study) who are obese or trying to lose weight.
Foods high in protein are also great “grazing” foods, as they are highly satisfying and help stave off hunger and the urge to eat.
Chicken is a great source of lean protein, check out 21 Easy Chicken Recipes to Try At Home Now!
Some ideas for protein snacks:
- Hard-boiled eggs (can just eat the whites if watching your fat intake*)
- Jerky (can choose beef, turkey, chicken, or even salmon!)
- Greek yogurt
- Roasted nuts
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Deli meats rolled up with cheese slices
- Whey protein shake
*If you are on a low-fat diet, learn How to Fry an Egg Without Oil or Butter.
Eat More Green Leaves
And eat more leafy greens!
Kale, arugula, romaine, cabbage, etc. And especially spinach, as the plant compounds in green leafy vegetables have been linked to weight loss.
Need fresh ideas? Here are 9 Broccoli Recipes that your lips won’t be able to get enough of!
6. I Need Food Right Now!
Plan Your Meals
Uncertainty or reaching for the first food that you can find is a definite cravings trap. And when you need to go food shopping, go right after a meal, not when you’re already hungry.
Are you keto? Check out these awesome Quick and Easy Keto Frozen Meals.
Make Meals Nutritious
And make sure your meals are nutritious because we often crave what we eat the most of. So the more unhealthy foods you eat, the more you’ll crave those foods.
For more info, read this article to learn All You Need to Know About Healthy Non-Perishable Food.
7. I Can’t Help It, I Always Eat in the Car, at the Movies…
Do you usually eat in the car on long drives? Or at the movies?
Think about what locations your body associates with food, and look at how you can switch it up!
Change Your Snacks
Try healthy foods in the car. Celery and peanut butter. Trail mix. A sandwich you make yourself.
Pack your own healthy movie snacks (refer back to the protein snack list under reason #5). You can buy snack-sized bags of air-popped corn that’s much less calorically dense than movie theater popcorn!
Make Mealtimes Special
Celebrate mealtimes with candles, music, and flowers in your favorite part of the house.
Eat slowly and savor the experience.
8. I Need the Energy
Prioritize Your Sleep
9. I’m Feeling Nervous
Stock Up Right
Eat something healthy before you go to weddings, dinner parties, or other large social events.
This is particularly important if you get nervous and therefore find yourself constantly wanting to eat at big gatherings.
Nervous energy is another reason why we can find ourselves with a desire to eat for no reason.
And If You Get Caught Out
If you get caught out next to the buffet feeling awkward, step away from the food and distract yourself in a conversation or physical activity (this is why I often offer to help tidy up at parties!).
10. Practice mindful eating
Focus on the Food
Slow it right down, be mindful of what you’re eating. Really focus on the food and enjoy the process of eating as a delight.
Practicing “mindful eating” can definitely help with weight control.
FAQs for How to Stop Food Cravings When You’re Not Hungry
Q: How Do You Stop Cravings?
The good news is that cravings only last three to five minutes, which isn’t very long. Although it can seem that way when you feel like you just want to eat and you don’t know why.
Apply one of the strategies above, and in just a few minutes, the desire to eat will probably pass.
Q: How Can I Train Myself to Eat Less?
Mindful eating (see point ten above) is probably one of the best ways to not feel hungry after less food.
The slower you eat, the quicker you’ll fill up.
Take Your Time
It takes 30 minutes for the stomach to send the message to the brain that you’ve eaten enough, so if you eat in less time than that, you are more likely to eat too much.
Use Smaller Plates
Smaller plates can help here too.
Smaller plates mean smaller portions — one of the best tricks to stop eating too much.
Q: What Food Kills Hunger?
The top foods, particularly if you’re constantly wanting to eat, are ones that are high in protein or that include green leafy vegetables. Try a green salad with plenty of roasted chicken breast and a low-fat dressing!
Need some new ideas for how to cook chicken breast? Click here for Betterfood’s Chicken Breast Recipe List.
Q: Does Your Stomach Shrink if You Eat Less?
No. This is a common myth.
Eating less food won’t make your stomach any smaller in size, but it will help reset your “appetite thermostat,” meaning you’ll be satisfied with less food than before.
Q: Is It OK to Go to Bed Hungry?
It isn’t ideal, as going to bed hungry can affect sleep patterns and increase anxiety.
Better to eat something light, the best being an apple or melon, or other fruit that is rapidly digested by the body.
Q: Is It OK to Eat One Meal a Day?
Try not to do this, as skipping meals can increase the risk of diabetes and hypertension.
In addition, the body thinks that food has become scarce, so most of the calories that you eat at your next meal will be stored as fat.
Become the master of controlling your food cravings by doing these four things:
Follow a personal exercise program. This can be any movement you enjoy doing, just be sure to get your heart rate up (safely!) and engage those muscles even if it’s just for a daily walk.
Prioritize a good night’s sleep. While we sleep, the body absorbs the nutrients we took in during the day. Also, our muscles get a chance to relax and repair themselves from our daily exercise.
Drink more water. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we are actually a little low on hydration! Sip on some crisp, cool water and re-analyze your craving before you eat.
When your body is well-nourished, exercised, hydrated, and rested — you’ll experience a natural decrease in cravings. All your vitamin and mineral needs will be met and you’ll feel ready to tackle anything on your daily to-do list.