Yes… because it has truly become an art form for me. Trying to diagnose when I’m hungry – truly hungry, and not just craving something because of a memory or a scent – then slowly determining just how hungry I am followed up with finding the proper item to feed my hunger? Yeah, that’s an art form. And once you’ve perfected it, your solutions may not look anything like mine or anyone elses – and that’s okay, trust me – but they will work for you.
How often do you snack?
It’s not how often you snack, it’s what you’re snacking on. You have to truly think about your day, and what you’re eating (and if you’re writing in a food diary, are you even including the little candies and cookies you snack on in your diary?) throughout the day. Every time you stick something in your mouth, you’re snacking. Is it candy? Is it office cookies? Are they empty calories – calories with neither nutrients nor real food (like cookies, cakes, candies)?
Consider how much time goes between your meals. Do you leave for work at 6am, with no lunch break until 1pm? Chances are, you might overeat at your 1pm meal because it’s been at least 7 hours since the last time you ate! We can’t have that!
If you know you’re goin to have a long day… plan! Prepare in advance. How?
Tools of the Trade
Let me tell you how I snack.
First of all, I keep food everywhere that I know I’d have a hard time convincing myself to not seek out a quicker, cheaper, less healthy option. Like… the car. Or… my desk. Perhaps, even, my kitchen. Yes.. the kitchen. If the name of the game is to avoid overeating, you head yourself off at the pass by providing little things that can quickly satiate an immediate hunger, and give you enough time to make sound decisions about what you want to eat. So for me, snacking helps curb that “hungry” feeling – if I avoid eating at the last minute (which is what causes that “hungry” feeling) and eat a little bit each time on a set schedule, I will never encounter that hungry feeling (or if I do, it’ll be rare) and I’ll never have a reason to overeat. I’ll never encounter that “Ohhh, I’m starving” feeling that usually propels me to overindulge.
What am I snacking on?
I keep a bag of grapes in the freezer. Why? Because they’re healthy, low-calorie, they take a while to eat and actually make me stop and think about whether or not I’m really hungry. I just grab a couple of frozen grapes, bite and chew them slowly (I’m quick to get brain freeze, so I’m careful and chew slowly) and before too long, I can assess just how hungry I am. Will I need only a few more grapes? Should I consider cooking? I get time to think about these things while I chew my grapes – slowly and carefully so as to avoid brain freeze! – and enjoy myself.
I keep a ziploc bag with half a cup (which is, essentially, two servings) of sunflower seeds in the bottom of my purse. Sunflower seeds are high in protein and fiber, so it doesn’t take a lot of ’em to get you where you need to be. They won’t satisfy me if I’m having that “Grrr, I’m starving” feeling, but if I’m eating on my proper schedule, I should never encounter that feeling, right?
I keep a bag of freeze dried banana chips in the car. This is usually for both myself and my daughter, just in case I’m stuck in traffic. They’re naturally sweet, very nutritious, and very satisfying to me. I just eat them one at a time – even if it means I eat the entire little ziploc bag of ’em.. I eat them one at a time. Remember, if I’m eating on my proper schedule, I should not have that ravenous “eat-six-at-a-time” feeling, right?
I keep cocoa powder in the house. Mix a little cocoa powder with water and confectioner’s sugar, and I’ve got chocolate sauce. Grab my strawberries, and ta-da! A nice light little strawberry and chocolate snack. Clearly, that’s a weekend thing. Not everyone has the time or means to make their own chocolate sauce during the week or after a long day!
The grocery sells sliced cantaloupe, so I keep some in the fridge. A slice or two usually tides me over for the next hour or two. In fact, if you don’t have time to tend to fruit yourself, those grocery store fruit salads might work pretty well altogether. A small one should help out pretty well!
What works for you?
These are a few things that, over time, have proven to work for me. I had to look at my routine. I had to check out my diary and see where I was the most vulnerable, and that’s when the answers started pouring out. Where do you find that you’re most vulnerable? What snacks tend to tide you over until your next meal?