If I had to pinpoint one nutrition area where I personally tend to struggle, it's over-snacking. During the day time I'm busy working, parenting, cooking, cleaning, laundrying (I do 14+ loads a week. I've earned the right to make it a verb), but come the magic hour of 8-9 pm? The kids are in bed and mama's free to feed her face and cruise the internet. Am I really hungry? Most of the time the answer is NO. It's clearly a dopamine thing because I'm sure not inclined to snack on, say, raw veggies. It's whatever carby sweet-or-salty thing I can find.
Though I am a work in progress, here are some tips that I strive to follow as much as I can. Does a person need to feel guilt over snacking? Of course not, but I'm a huge fan of feeling confident enough in one's habits most of the time.
1. Do. Not. Eat. From. The. Package. That whole dipping-your-hand-in-the-bag-again-and-again-until-it-comes-up-empty? Yeah you know it’s not a good idea. Our brains need the visual cues to help us fully understand how much we are truly eating. Get a bowl or plate dirty. Inconvenient? Yes. Ultimately will you feel better about that decision? YES.
2. Have a designated eating zone. Okay so the most sensical place for this is (drumroll) the kitchen table. If you’re struggling with mindless snacking, keep the eating where it really belongs: at the kitchen table. I’ve had patients enact this tip and without even making any other changes, they’ve felt more in control with their choices. It’s not even about WHAT you’re eating here- you might find that if the big draw is watching a new show on Netflix, eating is secondary and sometimes not even what we care that strongly about. By sitting down at the table, your attention has to be more focused on the food.
3. After dinner, go brush your teeth. Do mouthwash. Floss. This helps me for two reasons: I don’t like eating when I’ve got a fresh minty taste, and I’m too lazy to rebrush my teeth if I were to eat something. Truth.
4. Idle hands are the snacker’s playground. Is that *not* how the phrase goes? But seriously- a good amount of the time we are snacking, it’s because we want something to do with our hands. Get a notebook to doodle on/make lists while you’re watching TV. My go-to activity to tie my hands up is painting my nails.
5. Drink up. Sipping on water or decaf tea is an all-around win. My personal favorite is lavender tea. Chamomile is also a great bedtime tea. Just don’t overdo it with the fluids- no one likes multiple bathrooms breaks during the night!
6. Have an accountability partner. If you’ haven't noticed, changing a habit is REALLY hard! Enlist a partner, friend, or family member to help you stay accountable. That doesn’t mean this person has permission to nag and criticize- more so their role is to ask about progress and offer support and encouragement!
This list is just a few things to think about should you find yourself developing a habit you're not super jazzed about. On that note, I hear my tea kettle whistling. Gooooood night!