You know you’re supposed to have a break from eating, right? There’s supposed to be a time during the day when you’re not actually shoving food in your face. You’re not supposed to graze all day, you aren’t a cow. And, if I hear one more person tell me that grazing all day is good for them, I’ll probably smack them. I hope it’s not you. It doesn’t matter if it’s “healthy” snacks and meals, your body needs time to digest what you have already eaten, so give it a chance. Stop the grazing and snacking craze. It’s so 1990’s.
I want to set some very clear guidelines for you when it comes to how often you should be eating. Crystal clear. You should be eating every 2-4 hours. That means there should be a 2-hour space, minimum, and no more than 4 hours between your meals and snacks. That means there are two-hour blocks every day when you’re not putting food in your mouth. TWO HOURS. It’s time to stop snacking and mindlessly eating because it adds up.
If you’re a constant grazer, having a 2-hour span of time when you’re not eating may be hard at first, but it won’t take long for your body to adjust. However, the power and habit of food are extremely strong, so here are 5 ways to help stop snacking yourself silly:
#1 – Pre-plan for snacking
Until you’re in the habit of taking the 2-hour break from eating, planning is going to be your best strategy. Sit down at the beginning of your week and plan all of your meals and snacks. Yes, this takes time and the first few weeks you may not know what you’re doing, but start with a timing plan. Decide what time you’ll be eating and decide what time your meals and snacks will be. Usually, the cycle is meal, snack, meal, snack, meal, BED.
#2 – Drink water & Herbal Tea
A lot of times people eat for a number of reasons: they’re bored, they’re angry, they’re sad, etc. But, one of the most common reasons people are “hungry” all the time is because they’re dehydrated. They’re thirsty, not hungry. So be sure to carry your water bottle with you and actually drink from it. Carrying it around with you does no good. If you find plain water to be unpalatable, throw some fresh fruit in there to give it a little kick.
You can also try herbal teas. These are particularly useful when you have a sweet tooth. There are A LOT of delicious teas out there that contain no sugar but help curb your sweet tooth. Personally, I like Steeped Tea and the one to curb my sweet tooth is called “Cinnamon Hearts”.
#3 – Distract yourself – Go workout
I always find it funny how thinking about food can be a major part of our day, especially when we’re trying to change the particularly “bad” habit of eating all day. During the hours when you’re not supposed to be eating, you’ll be thinking about your next snack or meal and counting down the minutes have until you “get” to eat again.
Try to break that cycle. If you find yourself drifting towards daydreaming about your next snack, or you keep going to the fridge or lunch bag to stare at it, it’s time to distract yourself. And, the easiest way to do that is to exercise. If you don’t have time to go for a workout, find a way to do a 5-minute blast. You can try our 5-minute Flicker. Once you’re done, settle back into work or whatever you were doing and focus on that.
Even better? Get 30 minutes in! Exercise can curb your appetite. And, all the water you’re drinking during your workout also helps to curb your urge to nosh – yay added bonus!
#4 – Misery loves company
Make this change with someone and have an accountability partner. Reach out to your partner when you’re about to say “I’m starving, screw this…”. There’s something wonderful about receiving a text from a friend that says “NO…don’t you dare”. There’s solidarity in misery. Not that taking breaks from eating is a misery, but for some, it’s really hard.
And, if you’re trying to eat fewer sweets, having someone text you to “put the damn cookie down RIGHT NOW” will not only make you laugh but will help you refocus. If you’ve never had an accountability partner before, try it. It really does help. Not used to leaning on someone? Get over it. What you’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked, so why not try something new? Hmmmm? Riddle me that.
#5 – Go to bed
Okay, if it’s the middle of the day, this isn’t my best advice. But, for my late-night snackers, this is the best advice I ever received when I changed my eating habits. If you know that at 9pm you go off the rails, just go to bed. It’s that easy. Walk past the fridge, blow it a kiss and go to bed. 8pm? Great. Go to bed. I’m not kidding about this one, this is the best advice I can ever give you. Not only will you get more sleep, you’ll stop that calorie-filled late night snacking.
During the day, you can’t go to bed. Unless you’re a shift worker, then yes, go to bed. But for everyone else who cannot go to bed when the snack monster invades your mind, try simple deep breathing exercise. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat for at least 3 minutes. It helps. Once you’re done with your breathing exercise, get back to work, or parenting, or whatever. Clear your mind of the snack monster and refocus (see #3)
Alright, party people. It’s time to commit to a new way of eating. Can you do it? OF COURSE YOU CAN! I highly recommend you keep a food journal, it’s eye opening and can help keep you on track and accountable.
Good luck out there! You can do it! Start fueling your body with food. Food is there to help you function and live, not for convenience and emotion-smothering. More on that another time…
Off you go!