5 Tips To Cut Out Snacking Habits Without Restriction
Do you regularly fall victim to snack attacks? Here’s how to stop snacking so you can hit your nutrition goals faster, including some of our favourite healthy snacks when training.
How do I stop mindlessly snacking?
Snacking outside of meal times isn’t a crime, but it can be a problem if you’re trying to lose weight or get lean. Snacking on junk food leads to overeating, excess calories, and poor food choices.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to stop snacking and get your eating habits on the straight and narrow. It all starts by figuring out when and why you snack. Ready to tackle your snacking habit?
Why is snacking a problem?
Some people are self-professed grazers, preferring to eat 8 or more micro meals every day instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner (or tea, depending on where you’re from!) This can be an intentional strategy to spread your calories throughout the day.
The snacking we’re talking about here is unintentional and can even feel out of control or mindless. Snacking like this will add 100s of calories to your daily intake and could keep you stuck in a cycle of overeating and restricting.
Why do I constantly want to snack?
Snacking can be frustrating, especially if you don’t understand why you do it. Take a look at this list to find the reason that resonates most with you, then try our top tips to stop snacking.
Your meals aren’t big enough
If your portion sizes don’t fill you up, you are more likely to snack during the day because your brain and body need energy. And you know that when your thoughts turn to food, you can’t keep away from the snacks!
Try this instead – Stop trying to eat low calorie meals. Divide your daily calorie intake across 3-4 meals a day. Yes, this might mean you are eating 600 calories or more at some meals, but this is normal for a busy active person. Base your meals around high protein, fibrous vegetables, wholegrains or other natural carbohydrate sources, and healthy fats.
You’re restricting certain foods
Trying to follow a diet that has strict rules often leads to snacking simply because you focus on what you can’t have. And it’s incredibly difficult to use willpower to stop thinking about biscuits, crisps, or dessert!
Try this instead – Avoid diet plans that slash calories or completely ban any foods. Nothing is off-limits, you simply need to work higher-calorie foods into your total calorie intake. This means you can enjoy a couple of biscuits or a bit of chocolate every day, rather than snacking on entire family size bars and feeling guilty.
You don’t eat enough during the day
If you under-eat during the day, you will probably get home from work feeling ravenous and then start a cycle of snacking before dinner. A bit of planning will help you feel fuller so you never reach this stage.
Try this instead – Plan your meals, especially on busy days. This might mean meal prepping so you actually have the food with you. Or it could mean knowing when and where you will buy healthy, nutritious meals from during the day. Also plan ahead for trigger times like getting home or relaxing after work. Have healthy snacks to hand, or plan to relax another way.
You save your calories for the evening
Perhaps you hoard calories for the evening, because you know you enjoy sitting down with a few snacks. This can become a problem when your night-time snack habit gets out of control and you end up over your calories.
Try this instead – Eat more during the day so you don’t feel hungry enough to overeat in the evening. You can continue your ritual of relaxing with snacks, but control it by planning in advance and portioning out the snacks rather than eating directly from the bag.
You are an emotional snacker
Hands up if you’re an emotional eater! Your habit isn’t really about snack foods, it’s because you turn to food when you’re bored, lonely, or angry.
Try this instead – Next time you feel compelled to snack, pause and tune in to your feelings. What emotions are you experiencing? Write down how snacking usually makes you feel (comforted, soothed, relaxed?), then think up some alternative activities that will give you the same feelings but without food. Next time the emotion triggers you, pause and make an effort to do your new habit instead.
Will I lose weight if I stop snacking?
Most people will lose weight if they stop snacking, because removing the snacks from their daily intake cuts their total calories. But this might not be the case for you. It all depends on your strategy.
If your snacking habit currently takes you over your calorie goal, and you simply stop eating snacks, you will lose weight.
Maintenance calories = 2300
Fat loss calories = 2000
Calories from meals = 1900
Calories from snacks = 500
Current calorie intake = 2400
Calorie intake without snacking = 1900
However if you avoid snacking, but replace the calories by increasing the calories in your main meals, you will not lose weight. There are still some useful benefits to be had in this situation. Sure, you might not lose weight but you will focus on the nutrient intake of main meals, feel more in control of your eating, and might even save money.
What are some examples of healthier snacks?
Snacking isn’t a bad thing, but it can quickly lead to weight gain if you choose high-calorie foods to snack on. Next time you want to snack, pause, drink some water, and make a healthier choice. Here are some options that will tick the snack box without ruining your progress.
- Raw veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber batons, or cherry tomatoes
- Raw fruit especially lower calorie fruit like melon and blueberries
- Flavoured rice cakes or plain rice cakes with avocado dip
- String cheese or mini Babybel’s