Have you ever found yourself chomping away on the snacks stashed in your desk for ‘emergencies’ or plowing through a box of cookies only to realize afterward you weren’t really hungry to begin with? While mindless munching can be satisfying every now and again, as a daily habit or even multiple times a day experience, it can lead to weight gain, feelings of low self-worth, digestive upset, and potentially stress.
I’m a big believer in the ‘eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not’ philosophy, both as a weight control strategy and as a way to preserve the body’s digestive power and processing ability.
But sometimes it’s just too easy to fall into the trap of snacking here and there even when not hungry or overeating while distracted. Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies to prevent just that, which I’ll share below.
The first step is always awareness. Recognizing whether it’s true hunger that’s leading to eating, or perhaps emotions, procrastination, the clock, the situation, the environment, or something else. You don’t always need to know the underlying cause, but at least check in with your body and get clear on whether it’s actually hungry.
The next step is to avoid distractions. Whether it’s watching TV, reading, surfing the net, or other excessive outside stimulation, all of these can lead to stuffing a lot of food in very quickly. (I know—I’ve done it.) Plus, these activities hamper the ability to listen to the body.
But, what if, despite not being hungry, you’re still reaching for snacks feeling as if a food-seeking robot had taken control of your arm?
If your inner cookie monster or snacking demon is trying to unleash itself, try these healthier (and weight-loss friendly) alternatives to needless snacking.
1. Go for a Walk
Walking and exercise can help to clear your mind, release endorphins, and get blood flowing so you feel energized again, all of which can address the hidden reasons why you were tempted to eat.
2. Drink Water
Sometimes our misinterpreted drive to eat is actually just thirst that is seeking to be quenched. Sufficient water intake also helps both the brain and body function well, and improve clarity of mind.
3. Call a Friend
When you feel like the cookie monster is about to take over, perhaps all you’re really need is a break or something to boost your mood. A call to a fun, supportive friend would be just that—reaching out and connecting is a great way to feel close to someone and release feel-good brain chemicals.
4. Practice Yoga
Yoga, simple stretching, or deep breathing all reduce stress levels, which for many people is a huge factor in their uncontrollable eating. Yoga strengthens the mind-body connection for better understanding of true hunger-full signals.
5. Drink Tea
Another reason many people start snacking is to recover their energy, and/or to concentrate better. In this case, sugar-free, calorie-free tea is a much better choice than stimulants like coffee or sugar. The caffeine in tea restores alertness and boosts energy levels without excess stimulation or a subsequent crash.
6. Take a Nap
Whether it’s low energy, low willpower, loneliness, or something else that has you reaching for every snack possible, a nap may be just the solution. Sleeping improves decision-making ability, which can help you be clear on whether or not you’re hungry and then make the right food choice to nourish your body.
Not all of these ideas may work for you every time, so try them all out and see what’s easiest for you—it may be different depending on the time of day, how you’re feeling, or the situation you’re in. It can be super hard to fight the urge to munch mindlessly, but there’s no better time than now to start practicing some of the alternatives and building your mindfulness muscles.
Learn more about the wellness teas at WorldVitae.com.
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