Arthur Prelle manage your snackiingFor many individuals, the urge to grab a snack is often born of boredom or sloth, and not necessarily the need to take in more energy. Americans by and large use food as a means of entertainment, from dates to enhancing the quality of a movie-going experience. However, mindless eating can quickly lead to sneaky weight gain since snackers may put food in their mouths less than consciously. If you’re trying to get healthy, catching yourself with your hand in the cookie jar and finding other ways to cure your boredom could lead to almost instant weight loss. Here are some ways to monitor your actual hunger.

Actually determine if you’re hungry. Figuring out why you find yourself reaching for a fresh bag of Doritos will help you determine how to end the habit. Every time you consider snacking, go through a little checklist in your head: when was the last time you’ve eaten? When is the next time you plan on eating a meal? Has your tummy rumbled recently? Taking stock of what your body really needs will help you determine whether you need to take in some energy in the form of food.

Drink some water and then wait a little bit. Sometimes, all you need to do is perform the act of putting food in your mouth and see how your body reacts. If you’re bored, drinking water will suppress the urge to eat as it gives your hands and lips something to do. If you’re hungry, though, all that liquid in your tummy will exacerbate the hunger, and you’ll know that it’s time to refuel.

If you are indeed hungry, opt for a healthful, low calorie snack. As I’ve written about before, there are ways to “trick” your body into opting for more healthful snacks. For example, most people leave their junk foods on the counter and keep their fruits in the refrigerators, so naturally, when you get the urge to snack, you’ll reach for the foods your eyes rest on. Try instead to keep your healthful snacks in plain sight and make your junk food more inconvenient.

If you find yourself hungry a lot, re-evaluate your meals and eating schedule. You may be eating calorically-dense meals that your body burns through quickly. Breads, for example, don’t keep you full the same way that proteins do, so carb-heavy diets will results in more frequent snacking. Instead, opt for more smaller meals full of proteins to keep you full.

If you’re bored, do something more productive than eating. If the issue is boredom, there are nearly infinite cures to that particular issue. One blogger wrote that she paints her nails — that way, her hands are busy and her nails are too wet to reach into a bag of salty, oily snacks. Others suggest hopping on the phone with a friend, taking a walk, chewing on ice, or cleaning your house.