Something I think we all struggle with in day to day life is snacking or mindless eating. Here in France, snacking or 'grignotage' is something that just isn't really done. The French eat richer, larger lunches which helps keep the hunger at bay and they just don't seem to feel the need to snack. The French government even advise against snacking on TV food adverts and the supermarkets don't offer endless options of snacking material.
If however you are a big snacker and have been for sometime, I want to share with you a little technique I use to avoid dipping in and out of the fridge....
I am often working from home for at least part of the day and like anyone I get bored easily. My mind wanders and I want a break and a change of sensation from what I'm doing and so off course I thinking about having a little something to eat. However, I don't want my waist line expanding so I challenge my mindfulness by asking myself these questions before reaching for a snack.
1. Am I really hungry?
An obvious one and yet probably one you don't remember to ask yourself at the time because your mind gets so excited by the idea of having a yummy treat. However, you are NOT the cookie monster ('Me want cookie now!') You are an intelligent human being, yes, you are, so stop and ask yourself if you are REALLY hungry? If you are great! Go for it, but if it's not dinner time try to pick something healthy like a piece of fruit, nuts, seeds or chopped up veg.
2. Do I need it?
If the idea of fruit or veg as a snack is disheartening then the next question you need to ask yourself is, do I need it? Does your body need more fuel right now? Sometimes I'll go, as many of us do, and open the fridge 'just for a look', to check the fridge gremlins haven't emptied it out behind my back. Nope, everythings still there, phew! But that inevitably leads to eating. Especially after dinner, I'll start to take out a yogurt or something sweet but then I stop myself and ask 'Do I really need it?' I take a second to feel how full my stomach is. If I feel full I close the fridge.
Don't go putting more food in your body when you've just eaten for no reason, that's how the calories add up and the pounds pile on. Put the kettle on, have a tea and see if you still feel you want something to eat in 20 minutes. It's scientifically proven that if you wait 20 minutes after a craving first pops into your head, it will more than likely disappear and stop you from spontaneously snacking.
It's worth a try, right?
3. Am I just bored?
Boredom is a cheeky little chimp and often disguises himself as hunger to get you to notice him. Don't let him fool you! When I'm feeling bored but can't escape what I'm doing I change it up by asking myself the following....
3. Would a liquid snack suffice?
We all know that we should be drinking approximately 2 litres of water a day. That can sometimes seem unachievable. However, often when we think we are hungry we can in fact be thirsty. So instead of grabbing food I ask myself firstly 'Am I bored?' and if the answer is yes I ask myself 'would a drink suffice?'. I love having a range of different drinks during the day and love feeling like I am hydrating my body and suppressing my inner hunger/boredom monster at the same time, so I will often stop and charge myself up with one of the following:
-Herbal Tea (I love camomile or verbena for a moment of calm)
-Fizzy Water (So much more interesting than regular water!)
-Espresso (Not so hydrating but very satisfying and low in calories)
-A small fresh juice (Not from concentrate)
Just getting up and boiling the kettle or pouring a drink is sometimes enough time for your brain to have a little rest and regain control. Whilst writing this blog I've drunk a fresh sangria orange juice and an espresso but no snacks ;)
4. Do I just need a break?
If you've been working at your computer for a long time it can get dull and maybe you just need a break. Look at how you schedule your morning. Could you make room for a break where you can go for a walk, do another chore or even a short workout? Even a few minutes of meditation or mindfulness will help you rebalance and break the habit of automatically reaching for food as an escape.
Of course the best method to stop snacking is to not have snacks in the house in the first place but this isn't always possible when you don't live alone. I never buy crisps or chocolate bars because I just know that I am going to hear them calling me from the cupboard. My advice is give yourself a fighting chance to begin with and stock a minimal amount processed snack food!
Listen to your body, concentrate on physically feeling how full your stomach feels inside of you and learn to be more mindful about what your body(or brain) is really asking for. Don't forget that YOU are the boss of YOUR own body and you decide what goes into it, how healthy it is and what size it stays at. Take responsibility for yourself and the voice in your head which tells you you're hungry- it's not always telling the truth!