03/13/2012 11:38 am ET Updated May 13, 2012

Do You Eat When You're Bored?

If you eat when you're bored, you are not alone. Eating for fun, for pleasure, for something to do, to procrastinate doing something you really don't want to do, to reward yourself for a job well done, are all reasons many people eat. None of them have to do with being hungry and fueling your body. When we eat for fun, over and over again, it can become a habit. That habit can lead to excess weight, over time.

There was a great scene in the old sitcom, Mad About You, where Helen Hunt is in the kitchen opening and closing cupboards, the refrigerator, the pantry door and getting very frustrated. She comes out finally in exasperation and says, "There is nothing fun to eat."

Eating for reasons other than to fuel your body is kind of like getting your hair done because your car is out of gas. You might like your new hair, but your car is still out of gas. If you use food to fill your time, the time might pass but you now have the issue of excess calories that your body didn't need to deal with. You may also have created a habit so that next time you're home, and bored, you will head to the kitchen.

So, what can you do if this describes you? First of all, as I discuss at length in my book, if you commit to writing down everything you eat, the amounts and the calories, you can no longer mindlessly pop food into your mouth. This one step is the best thing we've got going for weight control. It wakes you up to what you are doing and doesn't allow you to "fall asleep" when it comes to what you are putting in your body. It's a simple tool and very powerful. Try it! Even just for a day, or a week, and see what happens.

The next thing you can do is make your environment safe. I call this "environmental control". Here is a quick video for you on how you can make, and keep, your home safe. It's not about never snacking out of boredom, that's unrealistic, but about doing it in such a way that you can still keep yourself in a healthy weight range.

Ultimately, it would be great if we only eat when our body is hungry and needs fuel. One thing I try to do at home is have lots of fun things to do that don't involve food. Right now I have a 1,500-piece jigsaw puzzle going. I have made jewelry, sewn clothes, knitted scarves, refinished furniture, gardened, etc... Most people I work with tell me that when they are busy, they don't think about food unless they are hungry.

So, stay busy, write down what you eat and drink (if it has calories) and keep your environment safe so that when you do head to the kitchen, there are healthy, easy-to-grab choices available.

For more by Irene Rubaum-Keller, click here.

For more on weight loss, click here.