Learning to recognize your eating habits will help you manage them better.

Learning to recognize your eating habits will help you manage them better.

What makes you eat? Each of us has different eating triggers, and some might be more obvious than others. (Rereading your food journal is one excellent way to spot occasions and foods that tend to trip you up.) Learning to recognize your own eating cues will help you figure out how to manage them better, so let's take a look:

Certain places or actions.

Walking in the door when you get home from work, sitting down in front of the TV or even sitting in a particular comfortable chair can be powerful "feed me!" triggers. Or perhaps you can't talk on the phone or read the newspaper without having something to nibble. However it began, you may have come to associate those activities with eating a snack.

Seeing and/or smelling food.

Tantalizing aromas and seductive visuals of food can get your digestive juices flowing and activate your "hunger" meter. Some people seem to be more susceptible to these cues than others. If walking by a pizzeria or a doughnut shop gets your senses reeling, you might be one of these food "hyperresponders."


If you've got downtime or are busy with a task that doesn't command your full attention, you might crave food simply to have something engaging to do. Going to get something to eat might feel like switching channels to a better station.


While some people react to stressful or unpleasant situations by losing appetite, many people find themselves eating more to help them cope. It's easy to see why: food is pleasurable and comforting, and after all, eating is one major way we care for ourselves. Overeating can even produce a drowsy calm (some call it a "food coma") that can be quite soothing. The act of eating itself can be a distraction, too, if you're a procrastinator: ever wonder why you're longing to cook up a delicious, complicated dinner when you have a deadline looming?

Research shows that positive emotions can trigger overeating, too. You might find yourself eating more when you're celebrating an accomplishment, anticipating a happy event or falling in love, for example.

The EatingWell Diet (2007)