Stimulus control is a method to use when something automatically
evokes a certain behavior in you. If, for example, (like so many people) you
get used to eating while watching TV, then you might begin to reach for food
every time you sit down in front of the TV, hungry or not. In other words, the
TV serves as a stimulus for eating.
What you can do in this case is begin to break the
connection between eating and watching TV. You might designate only certain
specific places in your house where you will eat, and even certain times—all
away from the TV. At first, when you watch TV, you’ll still think about eating,
maybe even crave some kind of food, or have the urge to go looking through the
food cabinets. But if you keep to your new stimulus control method—that is,
eating away from the TV—the experience of sitting in front of the TV will begin
to lose its power to evoke eating behavior in you. Ultimately, whatever those
alternative places are that you designated will become the places associated
with eating, and the TV will lose that connection.