SNACKING FOR HUNGER OR HABIT?
Don’t ya hate it when you finish your last bite of something and didn’t even realize you were eating it in the first place? Or, maybe that’s just me. What about noticing you’re standing in front of your fridge without remembering why? We all snack or graze on autopilot at times. But, would you like to know the difference between eating for hunger or out of habit?
See if you can relate to these scenarios.
- Right in the middle of a meeting, you suddenly remember that two month old rogue power bar in the bottom of your purse. It’s now more important than anything and you dig for it with the zest of a three year old at the beach. Are you actually hungry or feeling restless?
- You’re trying to put the finishing touches on a report, article, or project and can’t get the math or words right to tie it up. You look up from your work and notice that the bowl full of chocolates on your desk … is no longer. Well, it’s still a bowl, of course, but the chocolates have gone MIA. Are you hungry or looking for distraction?
- You were “good” for lunch and although you wanted a big burger, instead you had a tiny green salad with a slight squeeze of lemon juice. Around mid-afternoon, you find yourself wondering if you peeled back the wallpaper and took a lick, would it taste like cinnamon oatmeal? After all, that’s how the paste looked when you stirred up a batch in the first place. Are you truly hungry or feeling nibbly?
Oftentimes, we’re so out of touch about how actual hunger feels
that we completely miss the signs.
In fact, we’re usually not looking at all.
While this post is neither for nor against snacking, it’s about how to snack on purpose rather than by accident. It’s also not about what can happen if you snack when you’re not truly hungry (more fodder for future posts). For now, I’d just like you to simply take notice. When you reach for a snack – take a moment to breathe. Inhale deeply … breathe out slowly. Do you feel hungry? Are there any emotional needs that might be getting in the way?
Just this one simple step can give you the sign you didn’t know you were looking for.
Now, about that snacking. If you do snack – here are few tips to keep in mind:
- Make it Conscious! As mentioned above, stop to check and see how you feel. After your deep breath, do you notice any slight hunger pangs? Is there any gurgling and twinging going on in the tummy? Be certain that your choice to eat is not a mindless reaction to your present (and fleeting) circumstances.
- Make it Healthy! The only thing that can sabotage your nutrition plans faster than snacking is by snacking on empty-nutrient faux foods! Fortunately, I’ve already written an article on Healthy Snack Ideas and Recipe! for my friends at ProHealth.com. (And, no, these aren’t just for those with chronic health challenges.)
- Make it Timely! If you find yourself hungry mid-afternoon that’s fine. Grab something healthy. If you find that you had a light breakfast or light lunch and need a pick-me-up a few hours later, that’s a good time for a snack. Snacks are fine on a need-to-munch basis. But snacking regularly (especially in the evening), isn’t helpful to your dietary goals. I don’t like to make assumptions like that, but in the case against frequent snacking, I’m assuming that you’re not a professional Olympic athlete in training.
Got snacking tips of your own? Oh, DO share below!
Want to know more about what ONE ingredient you do NOT want in your snacks or meals? Grab my FREE Stop Feeding Yourself PAIN guide here!
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Thank you for this article, Sue. It is very important to be a mindful eater and not space out. Unfortunately, (and you touched on) food can become the soothing drug of choice. A person who is unable or unwilling to face emotions will try to deaden the pain through one addiction or another. Though drugs, smoking, and alcohol are some people’s choice, others have used food. I began doing so at the tender age of 21 never understanding the dynamics until mid-life. We have to have food to survive. I have found that I must eat healthy and commit to getting through one day at a time as my success–just like any other addiction.
Julie — absolutely! So many of us were even taught to use food as a soother, a reward, a punishment, etc. It’s a challenge, but very important to learn to see it simply as fuel. Food is wonderful and tasty, and amazing, but the bottom line is that it’s simply fuel to give us energy and vitality. I no longer choose (often, anyway!) to consume foods that don’t have nutritional benefits.
No truer words, Sue.
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