It happens to the best of us. We grab a bag of chips or Oreos intending to only have a few while we watch our favorite show or scroll through social media. Before you know it, the bag is half gone (or completely gone).
With most of the nation home all day juggling what is now an entirely new definition of multitasking, it’s time to proactively combat what could be the new pandemic: Mindless Snacking. While it’s true, snacking has now become a valid part of our day, it has the potential to cause weight gain, metabolic issues, and other health concerns on the back end.
So how do we curb the mindlessness of it all? Here are five ways to avoid the COVID Snack Attack.
- Plan a schedule. On average, most nutrition coaches encourage their clients to eat three meals and two to three snacks (or smaller meals) a day throughout the day. By planning your eating times three to three and a half hours apart, you will teach your body to learn when it’s “time to eat.” This will help avoid random all-day snacking.
- Plate your snacks. Treat your snack as if it is a smaller meal. Portion control your snacks by putting a limited amount onto a plate or in a bowl. Once finished, put your dishes in the sink or the dishwasher. The formal act of cleaning up after your meal (snack) tricks your brain into thinking mealtime is over; therefore, limiting the desire to eat again until your next scheduled time.
- Five-Minute Action. If you find that you’re in the mood for a snack or your brain (and not your stomach) is telling you that you’re still hungry, do something for five minutes to distract yourself: drink a glass of water, get some fresh air, journal, meditate, or call a friend to say ‘hi.’ Often, we mistake boredom or stir craziness for hunger. Taking intentional action for five minutes to refocus your mind and body away from food can help curb unnecessary snacking.
- Change your environment. This can be a difficult but necessary one if you find that you’re struggling with self-control. Changing certain environmental activities can, in time, change how we feel about snacks. For example, if you tend to go through a bag of chips watching TV at night, make a rule to no longer eat in front of the television. If you just can’t help yourself, create physical distance between whatever food is a trigger by placing it high up, or out of sight. You could even go so far as not buying it at all. Limiting the access to foods that you tend to binge on will help establish more appropriate mindfulness.
Ultimately, snacking is going to happen, but if you approach it mindfully, it can become a regular part of your nutritional lifestyle as opposed to an unhealthy coping mechanism. That is especially important right now when health and wellness are so paramount to our everyday lives.
– By Kim S. Walsh, Nutrition and Wellness Coach, www.warriorforward.com
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