Snacking is a polarising subject.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t snack much, this probably isn’t for you.
If you’re like me and snack even when you’re not hungry, read on my brother or sister!
You sit down to watch Netflix and crack open a bag of crisps. One of those 150g bags. “I won’t eat all of them”, you say to yourself.
Before you know it, you’re clucking for a second bag! It’s more normal than you think. So don’t beat yourself up. We all mindlessly fall into the snacking trap.
You guessed it.
If you associate one thing with something else, it’s really, really hard to break that association. Some associations are healthy, some aren’t.
Watch TV = Snack time
Get into bed = Fun or sleep time
Wake up = Check your phone
Go outside = light up a cigarette
Check your phone = open Facebook
Over any amount of time, we do things based on cues, cravings, responses, and rewards.
James Clear describes it as a feedback loop.
A cue triggers the craving, which causes us to respond. The response provides a reward which satisfies the craving. We then associate that reward with the cue.
I’ll go back to my Netflix example. You’re so used to eating in front of the TV that the mere act on turning on the TV triggers you to want a snack.
I could go so much deeper into the science, but the purpose of this post is to offer actionable steps to help you snack less.
Here are my 5 top tips.
- Change your environment. This is a quick and easy way to snack less. Don’t have snacks in sight! If you walk into the kitchen and see a plate of cookies, you’ll probably grab a cookie. And they’re so tasty and moreish, you’ll probably have more than one—five or six in my case. Instead, have a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. This will do two things. One; you’ll associate fruit with being healthy, and that will make you more likely to reach for it. And 2; you’ll eat one piece of fruit, not 6. When was the last time you ate six bananas in a row?
- Single-serve snacks. Did you need to open that sharing packet of crisps and eat all of them? If you buy the big bags to save money – I get it. In that case, measure out a smaller serving.
- Ask yourself; am I hungry or bored? Am I snacking because it’s something to do?
- Change your snacks! Keep fruit in plain sight. Look for low-calorie snacks such as popcorn or beef jerky. Natural yoghurt and berries makes for a great snack that will also fill you up. My absolute favourite healthy snack is an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, sprinkled with cinnamon.
- Intermittent fasting; If your feeding window is between 11 am and 7 pm, you’re less likely to reach for the evening snacks. More on intermittent fasting another time.
Snacking isn’t inherently bad. Our food culture has changed a lot over the years.
We eat out a lot.
We go for coffee and cake.
We snack in different environments.
You can still make snacks a part of your plan.
Remember, no food is off limits.
Just have less of the fun stuff 🙂