6 Ways to beat mindless munching

One of the best parts about editing Women's Health is that I get the inside scoop on the latest nutrition research. Most of the time I do my best to take the advice we offer each month, but that doesn't mean I never slip up. In fact, one of my hard-to-break habits is eating when I'm not even hungry. We've all been there. You're stressed, bored, or just distracted, and before you know it you've polished off a bag of pretzels. These tips will help you (and me!) put an end to mindless munching.

Banish hunger

Don't skip meals! Eating regular meals of complex carbs-not refined ones like white bread and pasta-with protein and a small amount of healthy fat will keep your blood sugar steady and you feeling satisfied. And go for smart snacks: Choose foods with staying power, like low-fat yogurt with some fresh berries or half a whole-wheat English muffin with natural peanut butter.

Hungry? Check out the 10 snacks that'll help you lose weight!

•Identify triggers

Keep a food log for a week. Record what mood you're in, what's stressing you out, and how hungry you feel before eating. Once you've identified the things that drive you to raid the vending machine, you can react productively.

Don't stress! We've got nine foods guaranteed to help you stay calm!

•Wait it out

You're most susceptible to your brain's demands during the 20 minutes after a stressful episode-that's the amount of time it takes for serotonin to bounce back and stress hormones to fall. If you can resist a temptation for just that long, the urge will probably fade.

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•Drink something

The hypothalamus, your brain's control center for mood- and food-related signals, detects thirst as well as hunger. Gulp a glass of water or tea (make it decaf green tea-caffeine can trigger the release of stress chemicals) and see if the craving passes.

Think before you drink. Here are three to sip and three to skip!

•Blow it off

To curb stress-eating, reach for sugar-free gum. Researchers in Australia measured the levels of cortisol in the saliva of study volunteers and found that on average, gum chewers had 16 percent less of the stress hormone than non-chewers and responded better to nerve-wracking situations.

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•See the lighter side

Studies show that laughter cuts stress, releases feel-good endorphins, and burns calories-an hour of busting a gut can torch about as many as a half hour of lifting weights. Amazing, right?

More Nutrition and Weight Loss Tips From Women's Health:

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Lose 5 Pounds in 2 Weeks

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