Though you may think that strong willpower is a necessary trait to overcome down-time grazing, experts say that your success is more dependent on your food environment than anything else. “If you happen to get bored and there is nothing but healthy food available in your house, you likely won’t choose to eat it unless you’re actually hungry,” says Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN of Neily on Nutrition. Most people don’t have the urge to eat celery sticks; cookies, however, are a different story. Heather Mangieri, RDN agrees, adding, “You can’t eat what’s not there, so make sure when you open the pantry, you aren’t tempted with the sugary, salty, fatty foods that most people choose when eating ‘just to eat.’ Instead, stock your refrigerator with fresh vegetable slices and healthy whole foods that will be easier to pass on if you’re not really hungry.”
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans those who achieve and manage a healthy weight do so most successfully by being careful to consume just enough calories to meet their needs, and being physically active. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), healthy individuals seeking to maintain their weight should consume 2,000 calories (8.4 MJ) per day.
“Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food,” Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
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