The office is quiet, with only the soft hum-drum of keyboard typing and computer fans. The clock is ticking by, slower and slower, as it seems. Tick… tock… tick… the hand shifts to three o’clock.
Suddenly you begin to hear a noise. “What could that be?!” you mutter to yourself, “I haven’t seen anyone go into the break room since lunch”. Intrigued, and looking for something to bring a bit of vigor to the afternoon, you get up from your desk and go investigate.
From the moment you swing open the door, you know exactly who – or rather, WHAT – was calling your name…
Snacks! Cookies, candy, chips; there are so many delicious options, and you know you shouldn’t partake, but it seems as if they are just begging you to be eaten! Without physically saying a word, these unwholesome foods are more persuasive than a year-eight law student’s twenty-page collegiate thesis.
Whether you are in the office, at home, or in the car, those snacky cravings are bound to hit. And, if you are like many, it can seem as if resisting the unhealthy treats is an unsurmountable task.
Fortunately, there is hope! You CAN overcome your junk-food cravings and resist the urge to indulge in fatty, calorie-filled munchies. Here are some of my* favorite ways to combat those troublesome desires!
First, though, you need to decipher what your body is telling you when you feel the urge to munch.
One way to do this is by using the “apple test”. When the snack cravings begin, stop and imagine a whole apple on your plate. If you could eat it, that indicates you may be truly hungry. In this case, your best option is to find a healthy snack full of nutrients and sustenance. After all, it is important to keep our bodies fueled throughout the day, and hunger is a way that our body communicates that with us! If, though, the thought of eating an apple does not interest you, that indicates you may not be hungry, but rather, simply bored.
Again, another variation on this method is called the “HALT test”, as in, before you eat, HALT and ponder: are you truly hungry, or, instead, are you just feeling angry, lonely, or tired?
Well, once you know the true emotion behind your urge to munch, you can proceed accordingly using some of the following methods in order to resist unhealthy snacking temptations:
- Take a walk. That’s right, just keep on walking past the treats. Take it a step further (ha!) and go for a quick stroll around the building, up a staircase, outside into your yard, or anywhere that is convenient for you. Sometimes a small change of scenery, fresh air, and getting the blood flowing through your body is enough to let the enticement of a snack subside.
- Drink some water, coffee, or tea- just as long as you don’t douse it with sugar and cream. Many studies show that our bodies can sometimes misinterpret thirst as hunger. So, if you think you’re hungry when you shouldn’t yet need food, try drinking a full glass of water, waiting a half hour, and then reevaluating. Similarly, if you think you want to munch on something because maybe you are starting to feel snoozy, don’t reach for the candy (that will only cause an energy spike and major crash later on)! Instead, see if a black coffee or herbal tea will do the trick and give you a needed boost!
- Distract yourself and get busy with a task! Do you ever have a day where you are so busy, time flies by, and before you know it, you realize that you have almost forgotten a meal that day? Similarly, if you keep your mind busy, there will be less time to dwell on sugary snacks. It doesn’t matter what task it is, as long as your mind is fully engaged. Try organizing a room, doing a puzzle, or racing yourself to clean a certain cabinet. Just remember: don’t use TV to distract yourself!
- Hide the temptation. I’m not kidding with this one. The phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” just proves this point further. Don’t leave sweets visible in plain sight; put them away and make them difficult to reach.
- Give yourself an ultimatum or reward. Here is where some strength of mind comes into play: try to tell yourself that you can have perhaps only one fun-sized piece of candy after you complete a full workout for that day. A “cheat day” is a reward, as well. For example, looking forward to each Saturday when my husband and I enjoy some delicious local ice cream helps me to resist snacks throughout the week (why would I give up a chance to have Mitchell’s, just for a stale doughnut on a coffee break? I wouldn’t! Point: proven!) [Side note: don’t go crazy on your cheat day and ruin the hard work you put in all week. Moderation is still key! But that is a blog post for another time… let’s stay focused, Lexis!]
- Comparisons are for shoes and cars- NOT FOR PEOPLE. As individuals, we all process substances differently. Who cares if that skinny girl at work just inhaled a pint of ice cream for lunch. DO NOT fall into the trap of justifying your choices based on others’ decisions. Do what is right – and best – for YOU and your health, instead of saying “if she did this, so can I”.
- Brush your teeth to stop yourself from munching after a certain time. This will dissuade you from eating because, if you eat again, brushing the teeth will then be necessary- again. ‘Yay’ for being a bit lazy! (See, sometimes one bad habit can actually help you fix another! Okay, too far? Yeah, too far.) Plus, it might sound a bit gross, but sometimes the food particles leave a taste in your mouth that makes you crave another type of food. Getting all tastes out of your mouth and freshening up might just stop the urge to snack!
- Paint your nails. This one, again, might sound a bit odd at first. But seriously, females, I pose this question: Have you ever tried to do anything with freshly painted nails? It is pretty much impossible. (Sometimes I breathe too hard and my paint smudges.) Do you see where I am leading you with this tip? If you cannot use your hands, you will not be able to unwrap a pastry or candy bar. HA! Take that, self!! (Here are some polishes that take a while to dry- LOL!)
- Chew some gum! Perhaps you know you are not hungry, but you want the sensation of munching on a snack. Grab a stick of natural, flavorful gum and chew away! Plus, it lasts a lot longer than food does, anyway! And, bonus: if a tempting snack is offered to you while chewing, you are already content and will be able to confidently refuse (and avoid spitting out and wasting a piece of gum.)
- Make, update, and/or reference your inspiration board when you feel like indulging in an unhealthy snack. Gather together motivational quotes, workout photos, and goals that will help you to keep your focus. If you feel like you just HAVE to have those potato chips, first look at your board. Looking at fit, healthy people, and firm, direct quotes will motivate you to resist the snack in order to reach your final goal, whether that is losing weight, remaining fit, or building muscle. (Create a Pinterest board for this purpose, or check this out for ideas on how to get started.)
- Have alternatives handy to snack on if you really have a craving, but are a bit hungry as well (remember- truly hungry, not just “bored hungry”). For example, craving something salty and crispy? Instead of chips, snack on some raw or lightly salted nuts or pumpkin seeds. Craving something sweet? Pass over those cookies for a banana! Want something creamy? Instead of ice cream or pudding, eat half of an avocado! Knowing what you crave and being prepared with a nutritious snack will make saying “no” to unhealthy snacks easy as pie! (Oh, no, why did I mention pie? Microwave some apple slices and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on if now I have you craving some!)
- No justifying small amounts! Every little bit counts; isn’t that typically a slogan for volunteering and such? Well, anyway, the point stands: small, seemingly harmless amounts can add up quickly, and before you are even aware, so much more has been consumed than you ever intended. If you think you are guilty of this, try to keep a record of every single food item you eat for a few days. Don’t omit anything, especially those “just a bite”s. You will be surprised at how much you don’t even realize you have eaten.
Once you begin to implement the suggestions above, you may find that your willpower is becoming increasingly effective in battling those tricky junk food cravings. Soon, they will not have an influence over you any longer; instead, you can find contentment in filling your body with nutritious sustenance. Enhancing your daily intake will not only make you feel better physically, but also give you an energy and confidence that is comparable to nothing else!
Balance Is The Key
However, a little dessert every now and again is not a bad thing. Don’t feel bad if you “trip up” in your diet, or want to have a special treat once in a while. While we know sugar certainly isn’t going to assist your body or serve you well, sometimes a sweet treat can be beneficial – especially for mentality and morale. If you have spotted a dessert that you want to get one evening from the best local carry out restaurant in your city, you can do so. However, it is essential to only consume sweets within moderation.
Looking at the sugar levels and the breakdown of any fats in a dessert will help you understand the impact it may have on your body or diet. A published journal by the US Diabetes Care confirms that regular consumption of sugary beverages, which include sodas and energy drinks, may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. It is important to take this seriously and try to cut back (note – not necessarily eliminate fully) on the amount of junk food consumed.
With these helpful tips, your road to healthier eating will be a success. As many people know, sugar is addictive, so once you manage to break the uncontrollable snacking habit, you’ll find your cravings plummet. It will become easier and easier to stay on track and choose healthier alternatives. Remember that it is not about stopping cold, but about changing habits little by little. Reducing the consumption of sugar is undoubtedly a good eating habit that will benefit your health for years to come.
Let me know what tips you enjoyed from this blog post, and what healthy substitutions you like to snack on! I’m always searching for new recipes!
Thanks for reading!! 🙂
*General Disclaimer (so I don’t get sued): I am not a doctor, so the above are just helpful tips and tricks that I and many have found beneficial. Before altering your diet or exercise routine, make sure to consult with your qualified health professional.