Taking control of snack attacks
Constant, steady snacking throughout the day is not a friend to maintaining or attempting weight loss. On the one hand, snacks can be a good mini-meal and quick pick-me-up energizer 2-3 times during the day, but when it is happening more frequently, then it becomes a problem. Snacking mindlessly on foods whether you’re hungry or not is a common reason why people gain or struggle with losing weight. Every little bite adds up and all those extra calories show up on your hips, thighs, abdomen and other areas you’d rather they not appear.
How to control snacking
· Write down every snack you eat
Keep a snacking log noting the portion size eaten and calories. Look up calories using calorie counter websites and apps – here are some to choose from: MyFitnessPal, Fat Secret, and Sparkpeople. Research has shown people who write down what they eat have more success at losing and maintaining weight.
· Record what triggers your snacking
You’d be surprised at what can be causing you to be a steady snacker. It can range from the following:
· Emotions – boredom, stress, sadness, happiness, frustration, tiredness, comfort
· Availability – the food was there so you ate it
· Craving – you know how good a food tastes
· Activity – Certain activities making you want to snack such as watching TV
· Analyze your snack log each week
After a week of recording your snacks, analyze it for the following:
· How many times you snack each day
· What types of snacks you are choosing
· What is the typical portion size
· How many calories is just the snacks by themselves, not counting meals, adding up to
· Triggers for your snacking
It can be an eye-opener realizing triggers for your snacking habit and snacks you’re choosing to steadily munch on each day and how it sabotages achieving a healthy weight. Now it’s time to have a game plan in mind. Here are goals to work on steering you away from steady snacking to more reasonable snacking:
· Preplan snacks – when to have them and what to eat
If you want to gain control over mindless snacking, actually scheduling in what time of day to have a snack can keep you focused on sticking to your plan.
· Never eat snacks directly out of the package – place them in a bowl or plate
· Enjoy snacks seated at a table
· Choose sugar-free gum instead of candy from a candy dish
· Have healthy snack foods available in the house
· Keep snack calories between 100-200 calories
· Choose snack foods with less than 3 grams of fat and with at least 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein
Other goals to work on gaining control of out-of-control snacking are:
· Limit TV viewing to less than 2 hours a day
· Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
· Choose activities that reduce stress. Try deep breathing, going for a walk, reading a book, doing yoga or pilates, or listening to music
· One trick that works when you simply can’t stop snacking is to brush your teeth. Who wants to eat another sweet with the taste of mint on your tongue?
· Painting your nails is another sneaky way to occupy your hands with something else besides food.