It’s the big question we often forget to ask ourselves when we mindlessly reach for a snack, but it’s one that should be top of your list.

Many of us boredom eat and as a result are clocking up the calories without even realising. When it might seem like an innocent snack, boredom eating can contribute to excess weight and confused messaging on whether you are actually hungry or not.

There are two types of hunger. Psychological and physical and it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

The former is more about craving a certain type of food without any such bodily cues that you are actually hungry, as physical is when you experience true hunger.

The latter is when you feel weak and fatigued and your stomach rumbles – it’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat for energy.

Boredom eating is basically psychological hunger and can be triggered by stress.

Studies show that stress can alter your hunger hormone, ghrelin and as consequence trigger food cravings and encourage you to eat more.

Social eating is another form of boredom eating. When we are out with friends and family and food is offered, we are likely to eat to be sociable rather that listen to our hunger cues.

Another form of boredom eating is when we are influenced by media such as TV or website advertising.

Research shows that advertising is likely to trigger hunger and cravings, so if you find yourself craving a certain food after watching an advertisement, you are likely to be boredom eating.

Before reaching for a snack, ask yourself if you are truly hungry or boredom eating.

Check in with your emotions and question if you might be feeling stressed, anxious or simply bored.

If you are craving a certain food rather than feeling actual hunger, such as a rumbling stomach, light headedness and lack or focus, then your hunger cue is more likely to be psychological.

And when you sit down at mealtimes, practice mindfulness and be aware of your hunger and satiety cues.

Eat slowly and pay attention to the taste and texture of the food and try to listen to when your stomach is full.

If you’re still hungry after your meal, instead of going straight in for a second portion, try waiting 20-30 minutes to see if you are really hungry or if you are just craving extra food.

Chances are, you are actually full and are eating with your eyes rather than your stomach.