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How to Control our Stress Eating & Mindless Snacking?

You’re at home working, or at least trying to. You’ve made a home office and are all set up to be productive for the day. But then, there is that constant thought at the back of your head…the kitchen. That chocolate bar or cookie sitting in the cabinet, or the bag of popcorn that is just dying to go in the microwave so you can eat your frustration, boredom, or, anger away!

Stress eating or snacking is more important than ever, now that we are at home all day, spending almost all of our time there. What else is there to do, but walk back into the kitchen 20 times throughout the day to grab those baked goods, leftovers or, look for snacks?

This blog will outline why we stress eat, how to identify what causes us to mindlessly eat, and lay out the different strategies we can implement to help us learn how to ditch those old or new habits we have built during COVID-19. It is time to create new habits that will make us healthier and more mindful for the future!

Find the route of the problem.

We want to determine why or what is causing us to mindlessly snack. This can be caused by anything from:

  • Stress
  • Wanting to “reduce stress”
  • Cravings
  • Habits/ routine
  • Peer/environment pressure
  • Lack of understanding of our bodies hunger cues
  • Not eating enough or the right foods throughout the day

Next, we want to ask ourselves in the different time frames of snacking:

  • What are we doing, thinking, feeling (emotionally & physically)?
  • Where are we?
  • Who are we with?
  • What action & decisions are we making?

This is the first step to understanding and breaking a mindless snacking habit! It is best to record the causes and activities around us so we can identify, remember, and take action when we recognize we are about to mindlessly snack, when we may not even be hungry!

What we can do once we are aware?

  • Try to eat 3 Balanced Whole Meals a Day    
    • Doing so will help you feel full and more satisfied throughout the day
  • Pause and ask yourself if you are hungry, or just trying to fill an emotion or craving
    • A lot of the time we tend to automatically do what pops in our head. If we pause to ask ourselves if we actually need what we are craving or if we are actually hungry, we can realize we don’t need that chocolate or salty chips to keep us going
  • Take a break:
    • Walk around the block
    • Do a load of laundry
    • Listen, sing or dance to 1 – 3 songs
    • Do 30 squats, jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, etc.
    • Deep breathing – meditation – talking to yourself to breath in and out
    • Meditation app – Insight Timer (This is the app I have used)

Taking a break to step away from our snacking thoughts gives our brains a few minutes to catch up and recognize if we really are hungry.  We can de-stress, relax, or concur boredom in another way than eating!

  • Replace the “junk snack” with a healthier more whole food one

Changing the option of what you are snacking on to a whole food option usually makes you fuller and more satisfied than the “typical go to junk foods”. This will help you get fuller faster and eat less.

  • Chose food items that can be portioned
    • Example: take a handful of nuts and dried fruit instead of eating out of the bag or plate apple slices with 2 tbsp of peanut butter instead of eating out of the jar
  • Balanced Snack Plates (include all macro groups for a filling and nutritious snack)
  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Hummus
  • Grilled Chicken Strips
  • Greek Yogurt Bowl
  • Rice Cake with Nut Butter and Fruit
  • Home Made Baked Goods

Stress eating is something that happens to all of us and sometimes is uncontrollable. But, by identifying and recognizing why or what causes us to mindlessly snack, we can begin to work on strategies and build habits to either:

  1. Derail our snacking or,
  2. Select a healthier more filling snack that you can feel good about eating!

Does this blog resonate with what you may be going through? Have you tried these strategies but are still struggling with mindless snacking? Contact me Victoria Piemontese today at victoria@fullmetalcrossfit.com for a free initial consultation to see how I can help you be in control of your food cravings and snacking, and become healthier each and every day!

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