Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Mindless snacking is a challenge for a lot of people and can be one of the hardest habits to break. Depending on your overall eating plan, snacks aren’t inherently a bad thing. The kind of snacking we want to curb is the mindless grazing that also includes giving in to cravings for unhealthy treats that don’t get us closer to our goals.
Over time, we’ve discovered several mindset and habit hacks that help us improve our snack game. Here are 5 favorites.
#1 - GET FULL, FAST
When you have cravings, the best choice is to eat something healthy - and fast. Trying to quell cravings by going without eating is a losing strategy and often leads to bingeing on the very food you were trying to avoid.
Take the edge off your hunger by eating a few almonds, a spoonful of peanut butter, or a slice of cheese. Choose a protein or healthy fat, as those are the most satiating. Then, once you’re not as hungry, you will be far more reasonable and can decide what to eat.
#2 - EAT; WAIT
This is one of my favorite hacks.
Eat Wait means just that.... Eat, then wait 20 minutes before assessing if you’re still hungry before going for seconds.
The trick here is to first eat a portion-controlled meal. We over-eat so easily because we start with big portions and then go for seconds before we’ve had time to realize we're actually full.
You know the drill - you over-eat, and then 20 minutes later you feel stuffed and bloated. *burp*
Yeah let’s stop doing that. Wait 20 minutes. Set a timer if you have to - that's what I do. Then, if after 20 minutes you’re truly still hungry, eat another half-portion.
But most times you’ll find you’re actually satisfied without feeling uncomfortable! Who knew.
#3 - Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
The more you eat foods that have no nutritional value - cookies, candy, french fries, etc - the more you’ll crave those foods. They’re high in sugars, fats, sodium, and preservatives, and many of them spike your blood sugar levels, causing an insulin response. A spike in insulin followed by the resulting crash not only keeps you in a constant pattern of cravings, it can lead to metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes over the long term.
That's no good.
Nutrient-dense foods, on the other hand, do not spike your blood sugar, provide your body with the building blocks it needs to thrive, and will keep you full for longer - once you wean off the roller-coaster insulin response you might be accustomed to.
Need ideas for great nutrient-dense snacks? I got you.
Stuff 5 dates stuffed with 1 TBS of nut butter or cheese
Apple with almond butter
Smashed avocado mixed with salsa (eat with a spoon!)
Almond milk, berries, and 2 tsp chia seeds left overnight to thicken
Nitrate-free deli turkey with 2 TBS hummus
Veggies and mustard dip
One pear and one serving string cheese
½ c plain yogurt mixed with berries and a spoonful of peanut butter
½ c cottage cheese topped with chopped green olives
Hard-boiled egg topped with mustard, sriracha, or salsa
Homemade trail mix of nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, dried fruits (watch portions)
#4 - PLAN FOR SNACK ATTACKS
Don’t wait until cravings hit to scour your cupboard for compliant snacks. That’s a recipe for “f*ck it” failure. Decide on a few snacks, buy the ingredients, have them ready.
The things we crave are usually grab-and-go easy, so your replacement foods must be equally easy or it won't happen.
#5 - EAT; REPEAT
Get past the idea that you need interesting, delicious, impressive foods every damn day. You don’t.
Make it more rote. Choose 3-6 main meals and snacks, put them on rotation, and eat and repeat.
When you grow tired of those options, choose 3-6 new meals and go again. This strategy removes decision fatigue too. You have your plan. Stick to it. Boom, moving on.