How to stop snacking.
People often ask me how to stop snacking between meals or picking in the evening.
Clients often say they eat well at meals, but then keep picking between. If they could just stop snacking then it would be so much better – they’d be healthier and fitter…
Maybe you’re struggling with the same since all the pandemic lockdowns. You’ve lost track of what you used to do in the evening before things like classes and clubs shut down during the pandemic. Maybe it’s been easier to slip into the habit of snacking between meals when you’re working at home. It’s been a stressful couple of years and that can lead to more snacking too, it’s human nature to turn to sources of comfort.
If any of those things sound familiar to you, know that you’re not alone. Even I’ve struggled with all of this and I teach people how to manage stuff like this! You can get control of it though. Keep reading to find out how.
3 steps to get control of the snacking:
Step 1 – figure out why you’re snacking
Ask yourself why you want to eat. Is it actual hunger or is it something else? Do you know the difference between true physical hunger or just wanting to eat? Real hunger is a physical feeling in your stomach that you get when you haven’t eaten in a while. If you need to learn more about this then you need my ‘No More Diets’ online course – there’s a whole session on hunger!
Are you eating out of habit, maybe because it’s a particular time of day? Or maybe you’re associating needing to eat with the activity you’re doing? Like always having a packet of crisps while you’re watching TV in the evening, coz you’ve got used to always doing that. Explore whether your eating is linked to how you’re feeling. Are you eating for comfort, because you’re bored or tired? Is eating a way of relaxing or rewarding yourself?
Ask yourself the question “why do I want to eat?” Press the metaphorical pause button, even if you’ve already started eating, and take the time to consider why am I eating this? Sometimes just doing this is enough on it’s own to make you realise you don’t actually want or need anything. Or you realise that you just need to do something else.
If you struggle to pause in the moment then take the time to reflect after you’ve had the snack. Or think back to the last time you were snacking. Sometimes it takes practice to be aware of our habits, we don’t often have time to stop and reflect on what we do day-to-day, do we?! We often do things automatically. There’s no need to beat yourself up, just be curious and observe what’s going on without judgement. Were you actually hungry or was there something else going on?
Step 2 – check your meals are nourishing you
Before you do anything, it’s always a good idea to check you’re eating regular meals starting with breakfast. I often see clients who pick and snack later on during the day coz they missed breakfast. Also check your meals are well balanced. Do they include something starchy as well as something protein-rich? Are you getting at least 5 handfuls of fruit & veg each day? Are you drinking enough fluid? You can find out more about how to make sure your meals are well balanced in my guide to making healthy eating easy.
If your meals aren’t balanced enough then you’re more likely to feel peckish between meals. Skipping the starchy carbs leads you to crave fatty or sugary, snacky type foods to give you that quick energy fix. Not getting a decent source of protein also stops you feeling satisfied until your next meal too. So do a quick review and check your meals are giving you the nutrients you need.
Or maybe you’d be better off with 4 or 5 smaller meals instead of the traditional 3 meals per day. We’re not all the same, some people need to eat more frequently to give them a nice steady stream of energy, try experimenting to see what’s best for you.
Step 3 – Decide what you need to do
Once you’ve figured out why you’re eating and checked your meals are well balanced, then it’s time to decide what you’re going to do. What will help you break the habit of snacking and most importantly do you want to do it? If your snacking is down to true hunger, what do you need to do to improve your meals?
Sometimes I recommend clients plan to have supper so they avoid that feeling of ‘being naughty’ having a snack in the evening. They consider their portions earlier on during the day, knowing they’ll be eating later too. Supper can be a useful way of making sure you’ve had enough fruit and veg. You fancy a bit of chocolate in the evening, but instead of having a little then fancying more (and more and more…!) – try having something with it. Turn the treat into a mini meal – have the chocolate, but also have some fruit and yoghurt with it. It’ll be much more satisfying that way so you’re less likely to go back for more chocolate (or biscuits or crisps or whatever it is you find moreish).
Think about how you can break the habit of snacking by doing something completely different. Like taking up a new hobby or going for a walk. Thinking of alternatives to watching TV in the evening is good for that boredom eating too. What else could you do to relax or reward or entertain yourself?
Maybe it’s time to change to a different hot drink so you don’t fancy dunking the biccies in it. Or you could try to avoid buying the snacks as part of your regular weekly shop so then if you want it you have to ‘really’ want it coz it’s an effort to pop to the shops!
Or are you procrasti-snacking? What are you putting off doing? It’s time to make that decision, have that difficult conversation or get the ball rolling on the goal you want to go for. If it seems hard to do whatever it is you need to do, think about how you could break it down into the tiniest steps. Then take things step by step, if the first step feels too hard, break it down into smaller steps.
What is YOUR first step?
What tweak would make the difference for you? How could you start to break the habit of snacking? Remember changing habits takes practice and time. Give yourself a break if it doesn’t work straight away, keep trying or try something different. And I’m here for you if you need more help with this.
Also remember that you don’t have to stop snacking unless you really want to – it’s always up to you what you do.
Need help to ditch dieting forever?
Want to eat normally again AND lose weight healthily? While still enjoying the cake & chocolate? Hell yes!
I will help you ditch dieting forever, either with my 1-2-1 support. Or if you prefer to work independently, you will learn all the skills I teach my 1-2-1 clients, on my ‘No More Diets’ online course.
My Weekly Round-up! AKA; what I’ve been up to recently…
- This blog has been brought to you by Vanilla Chai tea, I love it fairly milky and I don’t care that it’s more of an autumnal tea! It’s what I’ve been enjoying this week – ha!
- Totally cheesecaked-out and now my jeans are a little tight after that cheesecake I talked about last week. So I am practicing what I preach, listening to my body and surprise, surprise I’ve noticed I’m not feeling as hungry as normal! Trying to eat more mindfully and follow my appetite so the jeans feel more comfy again…
- Exciting news, you may remember AAAAGGGGEEEES ago I talked about taking part in some filming. I’ve wanted to have a go at being an extra or ‘supporting artist’ for ages. I’ve done it a couple of times now, but not been able to share the details… well now I can say that I’ve been in the same TV show as Noel Fielding! You can read about his new show coming soon here.
- I’m doing much better at my book reading challenge ’22 books in 2022′ this month. If you missed it, I decided that this year I need to read more books that I’ve never read before. So far in May I’ve finished ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. Then I read a collection of stories all including a character called Claire. The book was called ‘The Voice in my Ear’ by Frances Leviston and although I enjoyed some of the stories, a lot of them were pretty haunting! Now I’m reading ‘The Optickal Illusion’ by Rachel Halliburton.
- Haven’t seen any interesting films lately, but we did watch the new season of ‘Russian Doll’ on Netflix this week. I have to say although I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was as good as the first season some how.
- Bird Nerd Report: I’ve been keeping up the daily walks along the brook and this week I’ve seen more of a variety of birds than normal. Twice I’ve seen a female goosander with a load of babies. Not sure if it was the same family, but they were so cute and fluffy! Seen plenty of woodpeckers, loads of black caps and kingfishers most days. The other day I saw a pair of jays gathering twigs right by the brook. Then today I saw a sparrowhawk enjoying some breakfast in a tree – luckily I wasn’t close enough to see the breakfast – yuk! Also a heron flew overhead, haven’t seen any in ages, not that we see them that often.