“Oh my gosh, I can’t seem to stop snacking!!”
“Why do I keep doing it to myself?”
“I know I should stop snacking, but I can’t!”
My pants don’t fit anymore, but I don’t remember eating more than normal?”
If you have an issue with snacking, this sounds like a conversation you have daily with yourself.
Why Are We Snacking???
Lately, more and more people are having an issue with their eating habits and snacking.
And why wouldn’t they?
More people are working from home, so they can grab food immediately from the kitchen.
When at work, you feel like you just need something extra to break up the day, so you just start grabbing stuff.
After dinner, you sit down to watch tv, you aren’t really doing something with your hands, so you created a habit of mindlessly snacking in front of the tv.
In fact, when we make a habit of eating in front of the tv, your brain remembers this! So when you do go and watch tv, your brain automatically makes you feel like you are supposed to have a snack!
So How Do We Stop This?
First, we need to understand where it starts.
For most of us, I believe it starts in childhood.
When we were children, we were rewarded. On our birthday, we got a cake. When we achieved something or did something good, we got taken out for ice cream, or to a nice pasta dinner.
So of course, now when we are stressed, depressed, or bored, we look towards those types of foods to bring us comfort, because we associate those foods with accomplishing something and feeling good about ourselves!
Is it the food itself, that makes you feel better? No.
It’s your mind playing tricks on you.
You may temporarily feel better when you eat this stuff, but it is definitely not going to long term, because the food is going to make you feel like crap.
You are going to start beating yourself up, your body is going to feel horrible and sluggish, and of course the type of food you consume affects your mental health, and can cause depression and anxiety.
So it’s a horrible cycle.
Related Article: Why You Should Stop Blaming Your Parents
So What Do We Do About This?
Stop doing it!
Before you burn me at the stake for saying such a simple and obvious solution, I will break this down further.
I can understand better than anyone because I was always a stress eater, a bored eater, a depressed eater. I couldn’t stop snacking to save my life. Anytime you saw me, I had to be eating something. Because it comforted me.
I couldn’t stop.
When I went to the grocery store, I would buy twice as much as what I would need to. And it would all be junk.
We were spending $50 a week on just ice cream alone (Unfortunately I am not joking)! So trust me, I understand the pain of not being able to stop.
But I did stop.
I rarely snack anymore. When I do, it is nice, healthy foods.
So how did I do it?
Here are my secrets!
1. Are You Truly Hungry?
Or are you bored, stressed, or have some kind of emotional trigger?
This could be why you are snacking.
Right now, a lot of people are probably bored and stressed. So of course they want that comfort.
So ask yourself… are you truly hungry?
If you aren’t, then simply don’t eat. Deal with the actual issue itself instead.
For instance, if you are bored, get up and go for a walk! Do an exercise tape. There are tons of free virtual workouts and classes you can do and be a part of. There are even some for dancing! Do a zoom call with family members.
Find something that interests you and do it!
Sit on your patio and discover nature. (Yes, I’m talking about nature again!)
Listen to the sounds of nature. For instance, if you are lucky enough to live near a lake, listen to a ducks’ quacks. Eventually you will hear a difference in the quacks (true story!). Make up a story to go with the quacks.
When you hear dogs barking, imagine what they are saying to each other.
So Distract Yourself!
If you are bored or depressed, if you distract yourself you won’t think about eating!
Read a good book.
I know a lot of people say they don’t like to read. An alternative is to listen to an audio book. Think of your favorite comedian. I’m willing to bet they have a book out. Listen to the audio version.
You can likely check these books out through your local library or through their website. Listen to the jokes, listen to a book about travel.
Listen to a podcast. Get on YouTube or Pinterest and learn a new task, like knitting or wood carving. Learn about cooking or simple DIY projects or crafts. Make birthday cards for the year. Or like I mentioned previously, explore nature and do workout videos!
It helps when you distract yourself, because you are not only distracting your mind, you getting your body moving, making you feel busy.
2. Stop Buying Crap!
I get it.
It’s hard to do that. So here is a neat trick I learned that helped me.
Make a list, and buy all non-perishables online.
You can buy through Amazon, Vitacost (healthy subsidiary of Kroger). But you could even do this through Walmart or Target’s website!
That way, when you go to the grocery store, the ONLY sections you need to go in is produce, meat, and dairy (I typically don’t buy frozen foods, because most are terrible for you and a horrible temptation to eat immediately).
You don’t even have to go in the grocery aisles doing it this way, so you aren’t tempted by things you don’t need.
I can’t tell you how much this helped me.
If I don’t go in the grocery aisles, I don’t buy extra stuff, unless it’s extra avocados or extra carrots. And I don’t care about that, because it’s healthy!
And guess what? I save money this way because I’m not picking up extra stuff I don’t need.
I also spend a lot less time in the grocery store, which also reduces the urge to grab random items!
So buy non-perishables online and stick to grocery stores for just meat, produce, and dairy, and you will thank yourself.
Related Article: How to Eat Healthy Without Killing Your Budget
3. Stop Putting Yourself Down For Snacking!
You are beating yourself up because you know you are snacking and shouldn’t be.
I know you are, because I was too.
So when you feel bad about yourself, what are you going to do? Grab for something that comforts you!
So don’t beat yourself up over it. We all snack. Like I said, I did it so bad that it became a huge problem.
And here’s the thing- when you get mad at yourself for snacking, it’s because you don’t think you should be snacking.
So what you just did was associate negative thoughts and feeling bad about yourself with the thought that you shouldn’t be snacking!!!
So the thought of NOT SNACKING is now associated with feeling bad about yourself. This makes you less likely to stop, because we are now feeling bad about ourselves when we started thinking we shouldn’t be doing it.
You would think it’s the other way around, to where snacking would make us feel bad, but unfortunately, that’s not how our brain works. The negative thoughts weren’t introduced until you thought about quitting.
So stop beating yourself up over it.
If you snack, that’s okay, just turn it into something exciting like you get to try out new fruits or combinations you never tried before.
It’s all good!
4. Drink Water!
You may have read in my water article that most of the time, we aren’t hungry, we are actually thirsty!
This is absolutely true!
I tell you what I do: I carry around a 40oz water bottle with me EVERYWHERE (This is the one I use). Every couple of minutes, I take a drink out of it.
It has helped reduce my snacking so much! I can’t even begin to tell you how much. I am not hungry at all in between meals!
And the benefit of carrying around my water bottle with me (besides the obvious), is the fact my hands are doing something or holding something, I’m using my mouth for something. So this tricks my brain into thinking that I am doing something similar to snacking!
So I highly recommend to bring a water bottle everywhere with you.
Because you are killing two birds with one stone (horrible analogy, right? Why would we want to kill two birds? You get the analogy though).
You aren’t hungry, you are thirsty most of the time, so you take care of that. And you give your mouth and hands something to do.
Related Article: How to Drink More Water When You Don’t Like The Taste
5. Nutrition Failures
If you are hungry between meals, it’s very likely you haven’t gotten enough of the nutrients you need.
I won’t go into this much, because I talk about it in detail in the article I mention below.
But do you know how many artificial flavors and chemicals our food is made up with?
This is one of the main reasons we are still hungry after we eat.
I know I used to have a major problem where I would go to McDonald’s, or another fast food place, and I would eat a ton of food, but still be hungry.
I would ask myself how this could be possible.
It’s because there is so much crap ingredients in each food item, you can’t even call it a hamburger or bread anymore! The bread you are eating isn’t flour and yeast. It’s a billion chemicals and preservatives (aka “ingredients”) that you don’t even recognize, with absolutely zero nutritional value! And there is much more of that than actual food with nutrients in each thing you are eating!
This is true for those “healthy” sandwich places too, unfortunately.
So make sure you are eating pure food, where you recognize the ingredients. Because when you are lacking nutrients, that is when you are hungry and start to snack.
Related Article: Why Your Food is Making You Fat (and Sick!)
6. Make it an Inconvenience
You don’t need it. Your kids don’t need it.
The only thing it’s going to do for your body is disrupt your physical and mental health. Is the junk food worth all that?
So don’t buy it. Don’t buy cake or brownie mixes. Don’t buy snack cakes or potato chips. Avoid ice cream or other desserts.
Make it inconvenient to snack.
Buy only things that you have to prepare from whole ingredients. Buy ingredients to make your own dip; potatoes to make your own potato chips; cocao powder, whole wheat flour, and monkfruit or coconut sugar to make your own cookies and cakes.
Buy carrots and watermelon, and other healthy quick-to-eat snacks.
If you make healthy items the only easily accessible things in your kitchen, you will start to make better choices.
You are going to think to yourself “Is it worth it to go through the trouble to make the brownies and cookies?”
Usually the answer will be no. You won’t want to do it. So you stop snacking and when you do, 9 times out of 10, you grab healthier options.
So make it inconvenient.
7. Brush Your Teeth
Have you ever tried to eat something after you brush your teeth?
Tasted bad, didn’t it?
Even stuff you usually really enjoy won’t taste good.
You also usually don’t want to eat for a long time after you brush your teeth because your teeth have that nice clean feeling that you don’t want to ruin.
So make it a habit to brush your teeth after each meal.
You won’t want to snack.
8. Change TV Habits
This could go along with boredom, because many of us watch tv when we are bored or have nothing else to do.
But a lot of us have also made a habit of watching tv at night because that is when we calm down and relax.
A lot of times our snacking is done in front of the tv, because we made that a habit!
If it is during the day, do something else besides watch tv, like I discussed in the boredom section!
If it is at night and time to relax, hopefully you took my advice about making your snacks inconvenient. So if you are truly hungry and need to snack, get out the watermelon or grapes or pineapple.
These are great options for dessert, because they trick your body into thinking you are getting something sweet, because these are sweet fruits!
That’s one thing my husband and I have made a habit, is eating fruit as dessert in front of the tv.
Another thing you could do in front of the TV, is keep your hands busy.
I usually play games like Candy Crush. Sometimes I do some online surveys for Market Research (here are the sites I use).
But you can do puzzles or anything else with your hands too.
Keeping your hands busy, keeps your mind busy, so you aren’t even thinking about snacking.
Here is something you may not have thought of, but leaning up against your spouse and using them as a pillow will also distract your mind because your mind feels calmer, and less likely to think about food when you have physical contact with someone you love.
Ready to Quit Snacking Yet?
I can’t tell you how much doing these things helped me stop my snacking.
I used to be horrible at snacking. Heck, I had gained 150lbs in just a few years!
I went from eating all the time to not really snacking at all. I can go from breakfast to lunch without eating anything in between. It’s not even something I think about anymore.
My mind is always occupied on more positive things, I’m eating more nutritious foods, so I’m not as hungry, I made snacking inconvenient.
All these things helped both me and my husband (who was also really bad at this!) so much!
So I know it can help you.
Make it inconvenient, distract yourself, love yourself, and know you got this!
Is there a way you were able to cut down on your snacking?
Let me know below!