I’m a bit of a devil for snacking. Seriously, some days it seems like all I do is eat. I’m like a cow, continually grazing. The snack attack well and truly gets me. Worst of all is that I know I’m doing it, but I just LOVE food so much and I honestly don’t think my stomach has an off button.
And it’s not as though I don’t eat regular meals, I do! I can’t operate without breakfast, I look forward to lunchtime and I’m positively drooling by dinnertime.
So why is it I can’t stop snacking!?
There’s quite a few different explanations actually – ummm like not drinking enough, not getting enough sleep, the weather, boredom, procrastination, other people are eating…excuses, excuses.
It got me thinking about the different ways in which I could break the snack cycle, without unleashing my Hulk hanger – the problem is real folks. So I did a bit of research, asked around a few places and this my food lovin’ friends is what I came up with:
First Things Thirst!
Yep, we’ve all been told this a million times already, but most of us simply don’t drink enough and that has a huge effect on our appetites. Current guidelines suggest that we should be aiming to drink between 6 to 8 glasses of ‘fluid’ a day. In an ideal world as much as that fluid as possible should be in the form of good old H2O, but juice, tea, coffee, sugar free squash etc. all count as well. It’s been proven that often when we think we are hungry, we are in fact thirsty, so give it a go. Next time your tummy starts growling and you feel those hanger levels rising, go and grab yourself a drink. Wait for 20 minutes and then ask yourself whether you’re still feeling hungry. No? Your body simply needed hydration. Yes? Then have a healthy snack.
Brush Your Teeth
If you’re trying to lose weight, trying to avoid sugar or attempting to stop any bad habits you may have formed, this simple little trick is so effective.
Brushing your teeth works on three levels:
- Distraction – the act of doing something else, in a place where there are no temptations is enough to distract your mind from thinking about food.
- Mint – the taste of mint is known to repress appetite, it makes us feel satisfied and delays the feeling of hunger for a while.
- Taste – if your mouth tastes all minty then any food you eat for the next 20 or so minutes is going to taste minty too – really not nice!
Again a bit of a distraction method, but I find that doing some exercise not only helps take my mind off of eating, but also takes away any feeling of hunger afterwards too! I must point out that this entirely depends on the type of exercise I do, for example if I’ve been for a run I want to eat ALL the food, but if I’ve done a HIIT or weights sesh at home I don’t feel at all hungry afterwards. Even just getting outside in the fresh air and going for a walk can be enough to take your mind off food and as an added bonus you are using up calories and burning fat at the same time. Just make sure that after exercising you remember to keep well hydrated and if you are hungry don’t deny yourself a healthy snack. Ultimately it is about learning to recognise true hunger signals and eating the right kind of food. Food should never be used as a reward for exercising, but if you are hungry afterwards then of course feed your body with what it needs.
Don’t Skip Meals!
This is the absolute worst thing you can do if you want to avoid a snack attack, because skipping meals will only serve to make you even more hungry, which means you are much more likely to overeat and reach for the wrong types of food later on in the day. It’s no good skipping breakfast, only to reach mid morning when the office cakes are doing the rounds and ending up eating double the amount of calories that you would have had, had you eaten some breakfast first thing. Eating balanced, healthy meals at regular times helps you to avoid the many foodie temptations that cross our paths throughout the day. You are far less likely to make bad food choices if you aren’t completely starving!
Suck on a Slissie
I recently reviewed a product that sells itself as an anti-snacking device, that could be the solution to your snack attacks. Slissie is a small pen-shaped device that heats up a flavour canister (there are 9 to choose from), which you then suck as though drinking through a straw and the flavour is released.
It works in very much the same way as brushing your teeth, in that the flavour helps suppress appetite and therefore takes away the immediate feeling of hunger, distracts you and gives you something to do with your hands. So, if you’re someone who instinctively reaches for the biscuit tin at 11am on the dot everyday, perhaps you should ask yourself whether you are actually hungry or whether this is, more likely, a habit you’ve formed.
Whilst using an anti-snacking device like Slissie isn’t a long term solution, it could be exactly what you need to break a bad habit and to retrain your brain into recognising your real hunger signals.
You can read my full review of Slissie here!
HaveA Word With Yourself
Sometimes you just gotta sit yourself down and give yourself a damn good talking to. Next time you start thinking about food in between meals I want you to ask yourself the following questions:
- How hungry are you on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not hungry at all, 10 being I could chew my own arm off!)? Anything below 8 – not hungry enough, have a glass of water. 8 or 9 – have a small, healthy snack like some nuts or a piece of fruit. 10 – get some food down you pronto! (something high protein or carby like an energy ball, some hummus and veg sticks or a homemade flapjack would be good)
- Are you trying to avoid doing something? I am so guilty of doing this. If I’m finding a particular piece of work difficult, I procrastinate like mad and that often involves countless trips to the fridge. It’s not big and it’s certainly not clever, so STOP IT!
- How are you feeling? Keep a mood journal in order to recognise which of your moods trigger food responses. From my own personal experience with food I know that I go snack crazy when I’m bored, when I’m stressed, when I’m tired, when I’m hormonal and when I’m feeling down about something. Emotional eating has nothing whatsoever to do with hunger and it’s important to face up to this problem (because that’s exactly what it is) if you think that you eat for the wrong reasons.
Have A Snack!
Sounds crazy I know, but seriously…sometimes you just need to have a snack, so have one! The more you deny yourself something the more you are going to want it. Healthy eating is all about balance and moderation so it’s not necessarily the snacking that is a problem, more the kind of snacks that we’re choosing. Eating smaller, more frequent meals; that’s the three main ones of breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, is the best way to nutritional happiness. I’m sure you’re all familiar with those mid-meal slumps and it’s at those times that we are at most risk of eating badly. But by incorporating these into our daily meal plans, by giving them a food slot all of their own and treating them like mini-meals in their own right, it allows us to take greater control and give more thought into what we eat at those times. Snacks should be small, yet filling enough to keep you going until the next major meal.
- Fruit – bananas are particularly good for energy
- Peanut butter topped rice cakes
- Hummus and veg sticks
- Hard boiled egg
- Snack bar – homemade is best, but there are also plenty of great choices in the shops – just keep an eye on those sugar levels!
Snacking isn’t the enemy and the only person who can control what, when, and how you eat is YOU! Food plays such an important part in our lives, yet it continues to be such a struggle to so many of us. Hopefully these 7 tips to stop a snack attack will help you think a bit more seriously about the way in which you eat and help you make the right choices towards a healthy, realistic and sustainable relationship with food.
Are you a snacker? How do you control your snack attack?
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