7 ways to stop mindless munching and lose weight

Here’s our guide to ending mindless eating for good.

Calories in should be less than calories out – that’s the simple equation if we want to shift some pounds.

But often we’re not really aware of all the calories we’re consuming – and stand bewildered on the scales wondering how we haven’t lost weight.

[Read more: Slow eating may stem weight gain, study finds]

If this sounds like you, it might be time to adopt a more mindful approach to eating. Here’s how…

1. Start a food diary

The best way to see exactly how much you’re eating every day is to write it all down – you have to be completely honest with yourself. The truth about your daily food consumption, in stark black and white, should shock you into eating fewer treats and snacks throughout the day.

2. Practice portion control

With food waste constantly in the news, it’s easy to feel you have to eat everything on your plate. But what if ‘your plate’ was smaller? Try using a side plate when eating dinner, and you’ll start cooking – and eating – less.

3. Preparation is key

Planning ahead, by buying a trolley full of greens and preparing healthy snacks at home to have throughout the day, will ensure you stay on track. Protein and fibre will keep you feeling fuller for longer, so why not keep a jar of peanut butter handy to spread on Ryvita or oat cakes?

[Read more: 5 surprising foods that have more fibre than prunes]

4. Slow it down

When you’re really hungry, the temptation is to wolf down your food without it even hitting the sides. But it’s been proven that you end up eating more if you eat quickly, because your mind takes time to register you’re full. Chew every bite carefully, put your fork down between bites and have a sip of water every so often.

5. Just eat

It’s also tempting to plump down on the sofa with your bowl of pasta and chomp away in front of the TV. But if you concentrate on the simple pleasure of eating your meal, with no distractions, you’ll feel more satisfied and won’t want seconds. Savour each bite - noticing how it tastes and the texture - to eat more mindfully.

6. Change it up

According to food psychologist and author of Slim by Design, Brian Wansink, small tweaks in your home can help you beat the bulge. For example, he says placing fruit and vegetables on the top shelf in the fridge will encourage you to eat three times more fruit and veg. Pop the higher calorie foods in lower drawers – and you’ll eat less of those.

7. Hungry, or just thirsty?

It’s very common for people to confuse hunger with thirst because the same part of your brain is responsible for reading the signals for both. You should be eating every three to four hours. If you feel hungry more frequently, try drinking a glass of water and seeing if that staves off hunger pangs for a while.