Here are 10 of my best tips for getting in control of mindless munching – tips to avoid weight gain and stay healthy!
1. Observe Have you ever watched a parent eating off her children’s plates? Yep, that’s exactly how you look when you do the same thing. If you don’t like how it looks, don’t do it yourself. (My number one rule that really works for me!)
2. Visualize Picture in your mind everything you’ve snacked on throughout the day... maybe a few handfuls of chips while watching TV, tasting what you’re making for dinner, some of those cookies the kids didn’t find, yet. Now imagine putting all of that on a plate. How does that look? Visualize this plate PLUS the meals you’ve eaten. More than enough, right?
3. Distract: Try getting involved in another activity to stop you from “mindless munching.” (I find that the best ones are those that require both hands!) Try cleaning out a drawer, taking the dog for a walk, writing in a journal or any other activity that keeps you from munching, but still gives you pleasure.
4. Make a Rule Sometimes you just need to make a non-negotiable rule! Like my number one rule above, your rule can be just as simple: “No standing when eating,” “Nothing can be eaten unless it’s on a plate,” or “No snacking except for one small snack (portion control is a must) in the late afternoon or evening.” Whatever your rule, stick with it. No exceptions or negotiations... or it just won’t work.
5. Find an Incompatible Activity This takes #3 to a higher level. An incompatible activity is something that makes it too difficult, too uncomfortable or just downright impossible to do while eating. Some great ones are polishing your nails, putting on teeth whitening strips – even wearing kitchen gloves! Just be sure you are unable to eat while doing it.
6. Get More Sleep Did you know that extra snacking can be a sign that your energy level is in need of a boost? Snack foods are typically high in sugar so they give you a quick ‘pick-me-up’ because they cause a release of some of the body’s biochemicals, like serotonin or dopamine. Instead of a temporary “sugar high,” you can get the real thing by finding more time for sleep. Who knew?
7. Recognize I know this one seems really simple – but be aware what you’re doing! You probably find yourself mindlessly munching and don’t even realize you’re doing it, right? Like when you’ve finished one activity and have a few minutes before starting something else. Or maybe it’s when you’re bored or putting something off that you know you need to accomplish. Recognizing what you’re doing is like letting your brain in on what our hands and mouth are up to.
8. Realize When you find yourself eating, you should ask yourself, “What do I really need”? Realize that you probably need some “me-time,” self-care, a talk with your boss, or an outlet for your stress. So often, we choose food to fill a void, numb a pain or distract us from our true feelings. Find out what you need and feed your entire body, mind and soul – not just your stomach.
9. Respect Respect for your body begins with respecting the message your body is telling you. Your inner voice is saying, “I have a need” and (trust me) it’s in your best interest to listen. If you need a break, take it. If you need healthier relationships, find them. If you need to pursue a dream, do it. Take a hike, take a new job, take on less stress – but do what YOU need to do for YOU. When you’re mindlessly munching, food becomes the problem – not the answer.
10. Get Support Positive relationships give us a feeling of support, connectedness, community and friendship. If you’re struggling, enlist the help of family, friends and others who can connect and relate on your level.
There are great internet “communities” designed to help people from all walks of life to connect, engage, and show each other support.
Mindless munching is a serious problem for many who are fighting to maintain a healthy weight. I encourage you to find others who share your commitment to avoiding weight gain – and then get connected and keep each other accountable. Keeping one another accountable is HUGE to having great success.
Photo from here, with thanks.