Wondering why the scale won’t budge? You may need to pay more attention to your eating habits. Despite your best efforts, you may be taking in way too many calories each day without even realizing it.
Unfortunately, the proliferation of fake “health” foods and distractions like social media has made it easier than ever to mindlessly munch. Here are five surprising reasons you’re overeating plus, easy ways to stop.
- You’re tricked by “Healthy” Food Labels
When people see a food labeled as “healthy,” they think it’s less filling and eat more of it, according to research published in September 2015 in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research. People in the study ate twice as much of a popcorn labeled “healthy” compared to one that was identified as “unhealthy,” even though it was the same product, says study author Jacob Suhr, assistant professor of marketing at Portland State University. The same study found that when people were told that a food is “nourishing,” they believed it was more filling and ate less of it.
Outsmart It: The next time you see the word “healthy” on the menu, remember: Not everything labeled “healthy” is truly good for you or low-calorie. So, keep portion control in mind no matter what the label may say.
- Your Kitchen is Too Cluttered and Chaotic
If the mess in your kitchen has gotten out-of-control, you could be putting yourself at risk of reaching for the cookie jar. According to research published in February 2016 in the journal of Environment and Behavior, people eat more cookies in a kitchen that’s cluttered and disruptive (pots being clanged, chairs being moved, people interrupting) compared to an organized, quiet kitchen. Researchers think that a chaotic environment can cause stress, which then makes you want to nosh, especially on something sweet.
Outsmart It: Aside from keeping your kitchen calm and clean, use mind over matter: Researchers discovered that when they asked participants in the chaotic kitchen to write about a time when they felt in control, people ate less than when they were asked to think about an out-of-control situation. So before you dig in, recall a moment when you had all your ducks in a row so you can feel calm and in control.
- You’re Sleep-Deprived
You’ve probably read that not getting enough sleep can increase your hunger hormone (ghrelin), but did you know that when you don’t get enough chemicals in the brain it results to. You have a harder time saying “no” to tasty food like chips and sugary snacks.
Outsmart It: Besides getting more shuteye, you can also set yourself up for healthy snacking success. The “munchies effect” was most powerful in the late afternoon and early evening. So if you’ve clocked a short night, be sure to have nutritious snacks on-hand (like fruit, veggies and hummus, or yogurt) that you can grab when your afternoon craving strikes.
- You Scroll Through Social Media While You Munch
It’s a no-brainer that perusing Facebook or Twitter when you’re snacking can cause you to calorie-load. But surprisingly, spending time on social media can also lead you to eat more after you’ve logged off, too.
Outsmart It: Of course, you don’t want to become a social media hermit — feeling connected to virtual pals is a good thing overall. But just being aware that you have a tendency to subconsciously channel a post-Facebook feel-good vibe into a nachos-a-thon can help you set limits. After leaving the screen for the table, be sure to monitor your intake and eat slowly so your brain has time to read those fullness signals before you’re achingly stuffed.
- Your Body Never Feels Full
New research finds when you eat past the point of fullness, you short-circuit your body’s ability to feel full. In other words, overeating leads to more overeating.
Outsmart It: The trick is to find the sweet spot of feeling satisfied, but not gut-bustlingly full. Two proven methods to rein in overeating: Watch portion sizes and count calories