Author: Healthi Coach, Stefanie Wohlgemuth
We all love to snack. And there is nothing wrong with snacking if it is integrated correctly into your eating plan. However, many of us use snacking as an automatic coping mechanism which is a harmful pattern we need to unearth. So, the next time you feel snacky, ask yourself why?
Are you compensating for anything emotional (boredom, stress, anxiety)? Are you hungry? Did you recently give up smoking and now don’t know what to do with your hands? Do you just want the taste of something? Snacking to cope with your emotions is generally not the best way to allocate your bites. Food should nourish your body.
With that in mind, try to find non food ways to deal with your emotions: go for a walk, talk to someone about what is going on, take a relaxing bath or immerse yourself in a good book. If you’re hungry, snacking can be a way to fix that. An easy way to find out if you’re truly hungry is to eat some veggies or fruits first. If an apple or cucumber doesn’t sound good, chances are you’re not hungry! If it does, try to incorporate some fruits and veggies into your snack to lower the BITES and get more “bang for your buck”.
If you feel like snacking because you’re used to the motion of moving your hand to your mouth and having something in your mouth (ie you quit smoking), snacking is not a good way to deal with that. While it is a way to help kick that habit, it is also the reason so many people gain weight after they stop smoking. Instead, try doing something else with your hands! This can be something focused like knitting or something you can do without thought like a fidget spinner. If you find this unsuccessful and really think you need the movement to the mouth, try eating a carrot. They have zero BITES so they won’t negatively effect your BITES and they’re generally not something people find so pleasurable that they want to do it non stop.
And lastly, I mentioned just wanting a bite or taste of something. Having a snack can be a good way to deal with that. Just keep in mind to measure and track your tasty little bite. One way I do this is by having snacks proportioned in advance. I use ziplock snack bags which I then put back into the original big bag. When I want a snack, I can simply grab a bag without going overboard.
Also, make it special. Don’t just scarf it down standing in the kitchen. Arrange it nicely, sit down and take a moment to enjoy the look and smell of what you’re about to eat. Anticipation can be so satisfying to the experience and being conscious can help you feel more fulfilled. Once the bite is in your mouth, take some time to feel the texture, let it dissolve in your mouth and enjoy!
As you can see, there are great ways to make snacks count in the right situations. But there are also some where unconscious snacking can derail your plan. Hopefully stopping yourself to ask the questions above will help you create better patterns.