This is a problem that many many people have, including myself.
If , like me, you’re a grazer & just want to snack either all the time, at a certain time of day or just when you’re in need of entertainment or comfort this post is for you.
Essentially, when you feel like reaching for something ‘easy’ over & over again what you’re in need of is distraction. If you can divert your attention away to something else – even for a short period of time – you can nip that burning desire to snack your face off in the bud.
Here’s a list of ideas for turning your thoughts away from that tempting packet of chips or beautifully iced donut:
Brush your teeth
This is an obvious one that has been around for a long time. The reason being that it works more often than not. If you have a clean, minty fresh mouth you & are rid of any lingering flavours 99% of the time you won’t feel like eating anymore. It also has the effect of signalling to your brain that you are done for the time-being or the day & it’s time to move onto other things.
Have a mint or chew gum
This is in the same vein as brushing your teeth. It gives your mouth something to do as well which can be enough to stop those cravings. Also, if you’ve ever tried to drink orange juice after brushing your teeth or having a mint you know that it will make food taste pretty gross.
Take up a hobby
This can not only be an effective distraction, if it’s something you really enjoy it’s also great for the soul. If you choose something that’s outside or uses your hands it makes it almost impossible to eat. Knitting/crocheting, drawing, painting & colouring in, puzzles, gardening & blogging are some great examples. Hobbies will keep your mind occupied so are great for boredom eating, & they help relieve stress as well.
If hobbies aren’t your thing do something that you enjoy or that needs doing. For example, tidy the house. You will not only avoid snacking but can enjoy a clean environment which can help with stress, fatigue & anxiety. There are a multitude of things you can do to keep your mind occupied like putting on music & dancing, reading a book, having a long bath, playing a game or doing a puzzle. The world is your oyster here, do whatever you enjoy!
Do something that cheers you up!
If you’re prone to comfort eating, doing something that makes you happy is a sure-fire way to kick cravings to the curb. Figure out why you feel the way you do & choose an activity that will help. For example, if you feel lonely connect with someone. If you feel stressed that you have too much to do, pick something you can do right now & check it off your list.
Writing a list of things that cheer you up is great for those times when you don’t know why you feel down. It reminds you that there are things you can do to help. Examples are listening to music, watching funny/inspiring media or watch your favourite comedy. Anything that makes you smile is perfect.
This is a goodie & its benefits reach far beyond controlling your snack habit. Choose an exercise you enjoy like walking, a DVD/Youtube video, dance or just do sit-ups while you watch TV. It’s great for body & mind. If you do it over a few days your body will start to crave it instead of snacks.
Record your intake
If you commit to writing things down before you eat them you are much less likely to eat the wrong things for the wrong reasons. This also takes eating from mindless to a conscious decision. This simple act can also make you aware of how much you actually eat as often we forget – especially if it’s mindless.
Do a cost-benefit analysis
Is it worth the cost to your body & wallet. Ask yourself when you’ll get out of eating that piece of chocolate. How do you feel about the answer? Doing this before you eat outside of meal times means you have considered the consequences of each food choice & are prepared to accept them.
Don’t purchase problem foods
If you find yourself craving a certain food or food type when you want a snack – stop buying it. Not only will it not be in the house calling to you, but having to leave the house to get it means you’ll more often than not just go without. Use this tip in combination with the next one to make quitting your favourite snack easier.
Have some veggies or fruit at the ready
If you can’t avoid snacking, at least reach for something healthy – your body will thank you for it. Have some cut up veggies like carrot or celery sticks. If you don’t have time for this, get some cherry tomatoes or sugar snap peas. These are sweet, delicious & require zero preparation.
Whatever you choose make sure it’s easy to get to & stored in your line of vision so that it’s the first thing you see. We keep fruit on our coffee table at home so that we don’t even need to go to the kitchen if we feel like an evening snack & it works really well.
Call a friend, family member or connect on social media. This provides distraction & you can ask your support person to help motivate you to stay away from the cupboard. Talk with them about why you want to break you snacking habit (weight loss, health, financial reasons etc.) & why those goals are important to you. This will help you make decisions that work with what you’re trying to achieve than working against it.
If talking to other people about your snack-a-day habit doesn’t appeal to you, remind yourself why you’re trying to give it up. Place notes around your home to help with this. It will keep your goal in the forefront of your mind & make it harder to ignore in times of need.
Drink more water
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so it stands to reason that drinking will help you keep ‘hunger’ in check. It will also fill your stomach making you feel less like eating as well. Figure out what works for you ie: drink bottle, jug, glass or straw (reusable not plastic!) & make sure you always have that with you at home or at work. Make sure you have access to water when you’re out as well. If you sip on it throughout the day you will stay hydrated & avoid thirst disguised as hunger.
Have a hot drink
This has the same effect as drinking water, it’s just hot & flavoured. Hot water actually has a satiating effect & decreases hunger so pour yourself a cup of your favourite beverage & enjoy. Make sure you avoid sugary drinks though because these are high kJ/cal & may as well be a snack.
These are just a few of the great strategies you can find & habits you can form to help you stop reaching into the cookie jar when a snack attack hits.
If none of these will work for you, jump online & see if you can find something else that will.
Do you have a great idea or tactic that helps you stop snacking? Leave it in the comments, I’d love to hear it.
I’d also love to know what you’d like to see in future posts. If you’d like me to write about something in particular leave a comment below.