Anyone else snack even when you aren’t hungry? This is the main reason I don’t keep junk food in the house. Be it chips or cookies or ice cream, if it’s in the house, I’m probably going to eat it whether I’m hungry or not. But as it turns out, I still engage in minor mindless snacking even without the crappy food, albeit it less so. I noticed this the other day. I had just eaten a nice lunch and then about 20 minutes later, I popped into the kitchen to grab a little something. But really there was nothing worth grabbing. I went into the cupboard, pulled out the jar of raisins and grabbed a small handful. As I was doing it, I started to think. I wasn’t hungry, and I wasn’t eating anything I particularly craved or cared for. I was just eating for the sake of eating.

Is it habit? Boredom? Filling some psychological void? I have no idea. But it occurred to me that I am probably carrying a few unnecessary pounds as a result of useless and rewardless snacking. Mindless eating at its best.

Then I thought of a simple approach to combat this problem. So simple, that I think all of you should try it too. And so I take out my glove and challenge you!

Okay, not a glove slap or pistol duel at dawn. Much easier (but unfortunately less hilarious).

I challenge you to delay all mindless eating episodes for 15 minutes. That is, every time you go to get something to eat when you aren’t hungry (be it junkie or healthy food), make yourself wait 15 minutes. Don’t set an alarm, but do look at the clock and note when your 15 minutes are up. Don’t go back to the snack source until after that time.

That’s it. After the 15 minutes are up, if you still want to have whatever you were going to have, go for it. If you’ve forgotten or talked yourself out of it, even better.

This is a 30 day challenge. At the end of the 30 days, see if you have managed to make a difference in your mindless eating habits, and if you have made a difference in your waistline. I’ll post my own update 30 days from now and hope to see others.

Who’s in?

Elsbeth Vaino is an Ottawa-based personal trainer.


  1. So awesome that you quit smoking. 🙂 So far I’m finding the 15 minute rule works pretty well. It either prevents the snack, or delays it. Often I get caught up doing something and the 15 minutes becomes 45 or an hour. Pretty cool.

  2. When I was a smoker, I employed this technique to cut down on mindless smokes…now that monkey’s off my back, I’m game for your snacking challenge – being mindful can only help curb my oral fixation, especially at work!

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