Psychology can play a big role in how much we eat.
Many people eat purely out of habit, like snacking when they watch TV. Others respond to visual cues.
According to a report in the journal Brain and Cognition, watching cooking shows and leafing through food magazines can make you salivate even when you’re not hungry — and make you downright ravenous if you are.
Emotions like stress and boredom can also cause you to reach for a snack when it’s not really food you’re after.
Here are five ways to take control when your appetite says yes and your diet says no.
One tried-and-true method is to fill up on something that won’t break your diet plan. Many people find it helps to drink water throughout the day. Others opt for unsweetened coffee or a flavorful herbal tea to calm hunger pangs.
You might try filling up on a food that’s largely water when you think you’re hungry between meals. This could be a clear vegetable or chicken broth. Salad greens without dressing can also do the trick.
Why not burn some calories while you’re trying to curb a craving? One strategy is to take a brisk 15-minute walk or bike ride. Exercising before a meal can also cut your appetite.
Another trick is to floss or brush your teeth to ease the urge to snack.
In a pinch, chew on sugarless gum until the hunger pang subsides.
The bottom line: Don’t let a false-hunger habit bust your diet.
To gain more insight into how your eyes and brain influence your appetite, check out the entire report in Brain and Cognition.