Can't Stop Snacking?
Can't stop snacking?
In general, there's nothing wrong with a bite to eat when you're hungry between meals for most of us, most of the time, assuming we're truly hungry and we choose something healthy in the right portions.
But what about when you want to eat mid-morning, in the afternoon, and after dinner? Or when you have a snack but it's just not enough, when you can't stop snacking?
When some fruit salad turns into fruit salad + a cookie + two cookies + crackers, then cheese + crackers... Uh-oh. Trouble! Before you know it, you've just eaten a meal's worth of calories and you're not even aware of it. And perhaps you're not even satisfied and still want more.
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The repeated nibbling eating pattern segues into all sorts of possibilities, but here are some basic stop snacking problems tips:
- Are you actually hungry? Does a piece of sweet juicy lettuce or fruit sound good? If not, then you're not THAT hungry yet - really! You're seeking stimulation instead, which an entirely different thing and is at the heart of emotional eating.
- You might be thirsty. Huh? Yes, sometimes we feel hungry when it's actually our body wanting water. Drink a big glass of water. Then check in with yourself in 20 mins to see if you still want food.
- If that carrot or lettuce sounds good, you're hungry. Choose the right snack, something that addresses your level of hunger, takes into account when your next meal will be, is healthy, and will NOT lead you into a binge (avoid your trigger foods). Pick something nourishing but also satisfies your texture or flavor wants. Fruit is generally a good choice, as are veggies. Go for the "unsexy" stuff! If you want flashy, intense flavors, or rich indulgent stuff, it's not about fueling your body, but about getting that "high."
SLOW it down - don't rush to choose. Think it out. We make our worst eating decisions when we hurriedly pick something and shove it in our face.
- Choose your portion before you begin to eat. Put your serving onto a place or bowl. Put the rest of the food away. Take your plate or bowl into another room. Sit down to eat. (Do NOT eat from the box or standing up.) The simple ritual of being intentional about your eating is extremely powerful.
- Give the food your full attention. Smell it, feel it, taste it, appreciate it. Do not do anything else while you eat (no TV, computer, phone, driving) or you'll overeat, underappreciate the food, eat too fast, and will not realize how much you've eaten or that you've eaten at all. Do NOT go back for more.
It takes at least 20 minutes for our bodies to register our sense of fullness. And if you've just eaten something addictive and/or sugary, your urge to go get more will be intense. Ride it out - do not give in! That feeling will pass soon.
- When you are done eating, wash your hands, and use a breath mint or minty gum. Or put on minty lip gloss. Surprisingly helpful to stop snacking!
- Write down your snacks in your food diary. It really keeps you accountable and shows you everything you eat in a day, and often, it indicates why. A powerful tool.
- Escape the food zone and get busy doing something else (a walk, work, etc.). Food is fuel, not entertainment, so put your energy into something productive. You have dreams to go after!
These steps are about getting to know your body, being honest with yourself, and recognizing what patterns work for you or against you. Over time you get used to doing what works best for you and gets you the results you want for your great fitness, healthy body, and energetic vibrant life of your dreams. Stop snacking binges and take control of your diet.
Slow down your decisions (especially when it comes to eating) and keep at it until you start making better choices. Be kind to yourself! No one teaches us this stuff, we just have to figure it out for ourselves as best we can. There are no mistakes, only learning experiences.
Pay attention and over time you find you're making better decisions and making progress toward your goals. You are on your way!
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