Snacking is something Americans do probably more than anyone else. Sure every country has their traditions whether it’s tea time, siesta, cheese & wine midday, bread and fruit dinners, bread and milk before bed or any other daily custom but it seems that here in North America food is used and abused too often.
We’re all guilty of snacking when we’re not actually hungry. We do it when we’re happy, sad, bored, celebrating, and just because everyone else is eating…again and for so many more reasons or excuses. Celebrating occasions with family and friends is great, it’s important but it shouldn’t be your ‘hall pass’ to stuff yourself with reckless abandon. Snacking CAN be done in a healthy and controlled manner. Controlling your snacking could possibly make a huge difference for the better in regards to your health.
Five major reasons we find ourselves snacking are:
1- Stress: You might not realize that you’re stressed, you might even deny it. Stress can come from typical daily routines, daily living, and deadlines at home or at work, up-coming events, self-sabotaging thoughts such as desire to lose weight but negative thoughts or attitude toward being able to do it.
Fix: Foods rich in B vitamins can help. Bananas, beans and lentils are rich in B vitamins, eat these daily.
2- Depression: Even mild depression affects our behaviors and habits. Depression can be temporary or long-term severe. Some people don’t realize that they’re depressed they just feel ‘off’ leaving them feeling confused or indecisive causing them to reach for food to fill the emptiness inside.
Fix: Keep a journal. Write how you are feeling and anything that is bothering you. Write about your goals and where you are in life right now and where you want to be. This can help you redirect your moods and help you decide if outside guidance would be helpful for you. Eat whole grains- they raise serotonin levels which elevates your mood, increases calm and happiness.
3- Celebration: It seems that every gathering or celebration is centered on food. I’m guilty of it, I’m a huge fan of cooking and feeding people; the difference is that I [typically] offer healthy choices. When you’re celebrating around food it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten and exactly what you’ve eaten until at the end of the gathering you feel bloated and oh so full that the thought of eating breakfast in the morning makes you ill.
Fix: Find other activities to celebrate such as hiking, gathering without food-just visiting having fun, visiting a museum, going to a local sports activity, personal spa care…
4- Boredom: Many of us or most of us feel the need to do something while unwinding by the TV at night, reading, talking on the phone and using social media, checking email, online shopping, etc. When we do this, we lose track again of how much we have eaten.
Fix: I have found that using my smart phone apps and games keep my mind and hands busy if I feel the need to multi-task while watching TV leaving my thoughts of snacking in the dust.
5- Procrastination: Wouldn’t you agree that it’s so much simpler and more rewarding to eat than to tackle that project? Well, it seems rewarding until you come closer to the deadline and stress kicks in and you feel twice as bad for not just doing it in the first place and for all that junk you just ate; it becomes a vicious circle.
Fix: Pick one non-food thing you will reward yourself with once you’re finished the project. Write a plan of attack for the project then just do it. Your reward will feel twice as rewarding!
Snacking doesn’t have to be banned from your life it only has to be controlled. When you’re in control of what you eat, you’re more in control of your life and health. Go through the list of 5 reasons we snack, note the ones that apply to you and take the steps given to help you limit your snacking behaviors.