While snacking itself isn’t inherently a bad thing (In fact, it can actually be a pretty useful tool for many people in regards to helping with weight-loss), it can definitely cause problems when done without a purpose. I’m referring to the type of snacking we sometimes find ourselves doing almost unconsciously throughout the day…. A late-morning donut in the breakroom, a handful of M&M’s at work, or those chips after dinner we find ourselves snacking on, as we wind-down our evening by watching our favorite Netflix show….
These are just a few examples, but we can see the pattern. It’s those moments of snacking when we eat something between meals when we aren’t really that hungry, is what I’m referring to. The problem with this type of snacking, is that we don’t necessarily think about it, and register it the same way as we do a meal. When we eat a meal, it’s easier to say, “My goal is to lose weight, and this dinner looks like it will help with that.” Because we know we are trying to lose weight, we consciously (or at least try to), make decisions about food selection and portion sizes that will help us do this. Not only that, but we also register the fact that we just ate a meal and consumed calories. The problem with the style of snacking described above, is that we normally don’t register or “count” the food we ate, towards our daily total, and still eat the same sized meals we normally do, even though we consumed a few hundred extra unaccounted for calories earlier that day, while finishing up some reports at work.
I’m not going to bore you with any numbers this article, but even a few of these little unaccounted for snacks, can be the difference between you losing the weight you want to, and you not. However fortunately, if upon thinking about it, you realize that you are someone who tends to do this, simply stopping this may be the only thing you need to do to get the weight-loss process started.
Although this all sounds fine and dandy on paper, for some of us, quitting snacking isn’t as easy as “Just doing it.” We get hungry, and when we’re hungry, and there’s a box of freshly baked donuts from Krispy Kreme sitting on the breakroom table when we go to fill up our coffee, it’s all too easy to just grab one.
Believe me, I know it’s hard, sometimes VERY hard, but there are a few things we can do to help reduce the number of times we do this, just by making ourselves more aware of what we’re doing, and making the process harder than simply having to pop open our desk drawer, and grab whatever tasty treat we have lying in there.
Because I feel changing this one habit could really help a lot of people get moving in the right direction towards their goals, I’ve decided to write a series of articles about different things we can do to help eliminate, or at least reduce the instances of, unconscious, and uncalculated snacking.
Store foods that you are tempted to snack on, out of sight, and in places that are more difficult to reach.
1) Instead of having a jar (especially a see-through one) filled with colored M&M’s sitting on your desk, just starring at you, tempting you to eat them, put them in a box or a bag and keep them in a closet or drawer far away from you. Placing them out of sight and in an inconvenient place compared to just sitting on your desk, or in your desk drawer, will make you much less likely to think about them, and therefore less tempted by them. It’s just way too easy to reach for them and have some, if they are sitting within arm’s reach, such as in the bottom drawer of your desk, where many people like to keep them. I mean heck, M&M’s are amazing, if I had a big bag of colorful M&M’s sitting in my drawer I’d snack on them too. But because I know that about myself, I make sure I don’t do it.
2) This goes for at home too. Instead of placing the higher-calorie, higher-fat and higher-carb foods you like to snack on in the middle of your pantry, to when every time you open the door, they are starring at you saying “eat me”, put them on the lowest shelf back in the corner, or somewhere else out of eyesight when you open the door. I mean yes, you aren’t just going to forget they are there, I know that, but placing them in a slightly more inconvenient location will at least get them out of plain sight, and force you to take a few extra moments to reconsider your decision about whether or not you really want (or need) the snack before you eat it. Compare this, to just being able to open the door, and have the first bite of food in your mouth within the first 2 seconds, and it may just be the difference between you resisting the snack, or caving-in and eating it.
Placing delicious high-calorie food where you can easily see and access it, is just asking for problems. Food tastes good, is comforting when you’re stressed, and is just too easy to eat. When you do this, you are setting yourself up to fail. Controlling our appetites is hard enough in today’s society, being constantly surrounded by restaurants, smells, advertisements, and other stimuli that increase our desire to eat, we don’t need to make it any harder by forcing ourselves to stare at a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses all day. So next time you find yourself putting away your favorite treat, make sure to store it in a place where it isn’t going to tempt you on a daily, hourly, or possibly, even minutely basis.
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