Are they the root of all evil or “the thing” that’s getting you through the days? There are so many reasons that we snack and while we are quarantined with a kitchen full of food they have gotten very easy to reach for. Here are a few hints that can help you with sensible snacking.
Set yourself up for success
According to the work of Dr. Brian Wansink, known for his study of consumer behaviorism and nutrition psychology, the easier it is to see and access food the more you will eat it. The reverse is also true.
Remove most foods from the counter top. Place nourishing, healthier foods in places that are in your line of sight such as in a fruit bowl, or in your eye line in the pantry and refrigerator. These should be stored in clear containers so you can see them when you open the door.
On the other hand, make it a challenge to get to the less nutritious foods, such as the top shelf at the back of the pantry, or in the drawers of the refrigerator. Pack these foods in opaque containers making it less easy to see them when looking around.
Making these strategic moves is a simple step to encourage eating the foods that will nourish your body.
What do you want?
Before you grab a snack ask yourself, “what am I really wanting?” Are you stressed? Anxious? Are you looking for distraction? A break in the day? Companionship?
In many cases you don’t go looking for a snack because you are hungry for food, but you are hungry for something else. No matter what the reason is, it’s fine to grab something to eat. However, by digging to determine the reason you find your face in the pantry you may realize that it’s not really food that you want at all.
Be cautious of justifications. Most of us can justify the things we do, that’s why we do them. However, they end up being excuses that can create frustration and self-disappointment in the long run.
“This doesn’t count because there’s a pandemic going on.” If you want to throw caution to the wind during a weekend girl’s trip that’s one thing, however this pandemic has been going on, and will continue to go on for several weeks. It counts. It all counts.
“I can’t stop eating because I’m too stressed.” Although this sounds like a lack of control, it is a form of control that justifies the choices you are making.
“I’m too busy managing the kids school schedule and my work schedule so I don’t have time to do the right thing” is another justification you tell yourself. There’s not denying that everything is very different right now. While you never wanted to be a homeschooling parent that is now your reality in addition to working from home. Don’t make excuses. You have time to do the things that are important to you.
Strategies for Sensible Snacking
Here are some ways to incorporate snacks, but not let them take over your day.
- Never eat straight from the container. Always, always, always take your serving out of the container and put the container away before diving into your snack.
- Never eat while distracted looking at your phone, laptop, computer, or television. This distraction keeps you from truly being able to enjoy your food. Eat with intent and enjoy what you eat.
- Plan your snack. Identify a time during the day that you know you are typically looking for snacks and plan for it. Write down what your snacks are for each day of the week and know that when the time comes you have a snack waiting for you.
- Portion your snacks out. This can be done by either putting them into individual containers or putting a serving spoon in the snack itself (we always have a ¼ measuring cup in our container of mixed nuts).
- Keep a log of what you are snacking on. There are numerous studies that show that you will eat fewer calories if you keep a log. Trust me, it works. When you write down that you had a tablespoon of chocolate chips just after breakfast it keeps you from being able to forget. Write it down, whether through an app such as Nutritionix Track or in a notebook keep yourself accountable.
- Snacking on homemade goodies can help you keep things from getting out of hand. You get bonus points if they have nutritional value. Some of my favorite homemade goodies are Edible Brownie Batter, Carrot Cake Balls, Reindeer Poop, Zucchini Hummus, and Cauliflower Buffalo Bites.
On the other hand, be gentle with yourself. While we are moving through a very unusual time your eating habits don’t need to be perfect. However, in 6 months from now when you look back at how you spent your COVID-19 time how will you feel about the choices you’ve made?