Ah, snacking: our delicious pastime. Although the benefits of snacking have been widely debated by scientists, the general consensus is that snacking is awesome. Although, it鈥檚 not always great for us 鈥 no matter how many healthy snack recipes and plant-based power snacks we Pin. But it鈥檚 not snacks that are the problem 鈥 it鈥檚 the mindless eating that can come along with it, according to Dr. Leslie Lutes, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Okanogan.

snacking in front of comp

鈥淸Eating in front of the TV] really comes down to attention and habit. When we are not paying attention to what we鈥檙e eating, then we鈥檙e more likely to eat more than we think we are or more than we intended to,鈥 Dr. Lutes says. Luckily for all of us perpetual snackers, she believes that breaking a snacking habit isn鈥檛 about willpower 鈥 it鈥檚 about skillpower. Here are a few of her helpful tips for curbing your TV cravings.

1. Don鈥檛 try to quit cold turkey. As good as your intentions to give up screen snacking might be, the best thing you can do is be real with yourself. Mindless snacking is an embedded habit that鈥檚 going to take a while to break. Dr. Lutes suggests setting a realistic goal to start, like quitting snacking for two days a week, and building on that routine once you feel comfortable.

2. Use the QQF method. QQF (or quality, quantity and frequency) is a handy way to make small changes to eradicate a pesky bad habit, like screen eating. If you鈥檙e looking to change your TV eating habits, try swapping the M&M鈥檚 out for some raspberries (quality), eating only one handful of treats as opposed to a whole bag (quantity) or eating your fave snacks only three days a week as opposed to five (frequency).

3. Eat meals at the table. By eating meals at the table without distractions (AKA turning off that iPhone during dinner time), you run less of a risk of mindlessly snacking throughout the rest of the evening.

4. Brush your teeth after dinner. Although it may seem silly, brushing your teeth after your last meal of the night 鈥渁ctually deters you from snacking,鈥 says Dr. Lutes. Although she confesses that it might not work every night, that minty fresh feeling will help signal that it鈥檚 time to stop eating.

5. Have a plan for when you feel the urge to snack. Whether it鈥檚 calling a friend or getting out of the house, having a concrete plan for when you鈥檙e jonesing for goodies is a great tool to help you cut the cravings.

6. Break the habit of bringing the bag to the couch. It鈥檚 time to ditch the idea that if you bring the whole bag of Cheetos to the couch, you鈥檒l totally listen to your stomach when it grumbles that you鈥檙e full. You have to set yourself up for success. Instead of bringing the whole bag, portion out a reasonable amount and seal that baby up.

7. Make food about food and emotion about emotion. Listen, we get it: Bad days are the worst. When your boss is being a grouch or your BF is bringing you down, a pint of ice cream or a bag of salty chips seems like just the friend you need. 鈥淓ating the bag of chips won鈥檛 help you (in the long-run) deal with your stressor at work, your relationship or your life,鈥 says Dr. Lutes. 鈥淭hey often just make people feel better in the moment, only to make them feel bad or guilty after.鈥 Although emotional eating is a difficult habit to break, try asking yourself why you鈥檙e eating a particular food and if you actually feel hungry. If the answer is no, then you should probably put it down, no matter how good it looks ATM.

8. Don鈥檛 be too hard on yourself. All bad habits are habits for a reason. 鈥淚f this all fails and before you realize it you are sitting in front of the TV and look down at that empty box of Pringles 鈥 don鈥檛 beat yourself up,鈥 Dr. Lutes suggests. Instead, 鈥淭hink about how we got to this place and how we can move on from here.鈥

Do you have any tips or tricks to stop eating junk in front of the TV? Tweet us your comments by mentioning @BritandCo.

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