Do you find yourself constantly snacking, even when you don’t feel hungry? Do you find yourself reaching for “comforting” (but unhealthy!) options when you are bored, lonely, fatigued or just because “it’s there”? Having healthy snacks here and there throughout the day is great, but over-snacking, especially on junk food and other unhealthy options, can lead to weight gain (which can usher in a whole other set of problems such as diabetes, loss of confidence, and high blood pressure.) Follow these next steps to help you snack less and eat right more often!
Step 1: Recognize and organize: You’ve noted that over-snacking and compulsive eating is a problem for you. Now, write down everything you eat on the average weekday, and then your average consumption on the weekend.
Step 2: Analyze the results: Take a look at what you just wrote and take in what it’s telling you: when do you eat the most – before lunch, after dinner? Do you eat or skip breakfast? What types of snacks are you choosing between meals?
Step 3: Cut one item at a time: If you find that you are picking up unhealthy options for snacks, it’s time to make a change. But remember, change doesn’t have to be drastic – it can be gradual. Let’s say that one of your snacking habits is to eat a bag of chips after lunch. For one day, don’t choose the chips. Keep it up for the next day, and the next, until you have gone a whole week without having that usual bag of chips. You’ll find that it was most probably unnecessary snacking. If you find you need something at that time of day, choose a healthy option like rice cakes or veggies. After you’ve succeeded in breaking one bad habit, try eliminating another for the next week. Build up to a complete re-haul of your diet!
Step 4: Set specific times for your meals: Try and eat your breakfast, mid-day snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner at set times – you’ll train your body to eat when it is hungry, and you’ll also be more prepared to feed it, perhaps with healthy snacks you’ve brought along. Leave at least 3-4 hours between each time you snack, and pay attention: are you eating because you are hungry, or…?
Step 5: Pack your own snacks: Packing your own snack will help you avoid giving into the various temptations that exist in the vending machines and corner stores. Pack healthy options like celery, low-salt pretzels, a handful of almonds, plain popcorn, hummus with pita chips – the options are endless and delicious.
Step 6: Drink water: If you keep having the urge to snack, try drinking water. Sometimes thirst can be disguised as hunger. What’s more, you’ll be making sure you’re getting the necessary amount of water you need, which will help you have better skin, energy, and overall health!
Step 7: Be positive! Don’t get discouraged if you slip up once or twice. What you are doing takes hard work, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Stay motivated – focus on what you have accomplished, rather than the failures.
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