Do you ever feel like snacking is your nemesis? As if Pringles crawled into your brain when they said “once you pop, you just can’t stop!” Or if we could just get rid of all those cookies in the break room, life would be so much easier!
The problem isn’t the actual snacks, it’s that we are using them incorrectly. In fact, when you understand how to build a satiating and delicious snack, it can transform from your enemy to your best friend.
Here are some common snacking mistakes and, as always, how to solve them.
You try to solve hunger with a craving
You probably aren’t reading this because you are eating too many apples and sliced veggies. When we think of snacks that we are ashamed of, we go towards chips and cookies and sugary drinks. If you think back to The Truth About Cravings, most sugar and carb cravings are rooted in legitimate hunger. We feel it as a craving, so we try to solve it with just a few chips, but it doesn’t work so we go back for more and more and more and more…
When those afternoons sweet or salty cravings hit, encourage yourself to have your prepared snack first. If you still want the chips, cookies, etc. afterwards, they are all yours. Sometimes you may still have both, but more often that not once the physical hunger subsides the craving does too…or at the very least becomes manageable!
Your snack is incomplete
Now you have stocked up on fruits and vegetables as great healthy snacks. This is fantastic – yes, please eat more fruits and vegetables! But as we discussed in 5 Sneaky Reasons You’re So Hungry, protein solves hunger, not carbohydrates. So even though you are getting some great nutrients with the fruits and vegetables, you are not going to get full. Typically, this leads to grazing, and grazing leads to the vending machine.
Keep the fruit and vegetables but combine them with a satisfying source of protein. Examples are: nuts, seeds, hummus, cheese, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, edamame, etc.
You don’t want to ruin your meal
OK, so you have complete and delicious snacks, you have identified that your cravings are actual hunger…but you are going to eat dinner in a few hours so you’re going to skip it. No!! Having a small snack to tide you over is not going to ruin your next meal. What it will do is take the edge off your hunger. This will help you when you are ordering, keep you from the tortilla chips in the pantry when you are waiting for dinner and allow you to slow down and taste the food rather than inhale it. Worst case, you eat a smaller meal. Is that really such a bad thing?
If you have 50 minutes or more before you are planning to eat, have the snack.
You sneak them rather than enjoy them
What about the snacks that you eat just because you want them? Yes, it is OK to eat food just because it tastes good. Not everything you put in your mouth needs to be an explosion of nutrients! One of the benefits of being a grown-up is you get to eat what you want (hooray!!). One of the downsides is you have to pay taxes (bummer). Still, we can become ashamed about this and we tend to sneak them. We don’t think we should really be having it, so we just grab a little bite, and then one more, and then one more. When it’s all said and done, we probably eat way more than we would have if we had just allowed it and we didn’t enjoy it because we were being so shady.
If you are eating something that tastes amazing, the only thing that I ask is that you REALLY enjoy it. If there is a special treat or something you want to have, take time and make space for it. Put it on a plate, sit and savor it. You don’t have to be a weirdo about it, but if it is something that you really love I want you to eat it in a way that you could describe it in detail.
Now here is the catch, if you find that you don’t like it as much as you thought, or don’t want to make time for it, don’t eat it. Yes, this is easier said than done at first. However, with practice you can easily differentiate between what you are eating just because it’s there and what really sparks joy. Word on the street is that can be life-changing 😉