We all do it. When we’re bored, lonely, frustrated – just about any negative feeling at all – we reach for a snack. It may be out of habit, or it may be the result of years of conditioning, but there it is. We’ve grown to equate food with comfort. There are some situations that are more likely to provoke us to reach for a snack – can you watch a movie without popcorn, for instance? Recognizing some of them in advance and heading them off can take a little planning, but you CAN reprogram the conditioning that has you reaching for a candy bar when someone hurts your feelings. Here are five situations that almost scream for a snack – and things you can do instead.
- Movie Night. The minute you walk into the theater, the smell of warm,buttery popcorn hits you like a ton of bricks. Stay strong!
Instead of popcorn at the movies, reach for your date’s hand. He’ll never guess that you’re holding his hand to keep yours out of the popcorn. No date? Sip on cucumber water for refreshing hydration while you enjoy the latest flick.
- Mid-Morning Hunger Attack. It’s 10am and you’re hungry. What do you do? Reach for a bag of chips at your desk? No! Your body does need a mid-morning pick-me-up to keep you going, but chips aren’t the way to go. Instead of consuming empty calories, grab the mail and walk to the post office, or take a walk to the copy machine. A brisk walk does wonders for your energy level, and if you can get outside that’s all the better.
- The TV/ Couch Combo. Can’t watch television in the evening without snacking on whatever’s handy? You aren’t alone. The combo of TV and your comfy couch mean trouble. Instead of giving into the temptation to raid your pantry, give your hands something to do. Fold that pile of laundry that you’ve been meaning to get to (I know, I know, it’s boring- but also effective and you will feel productive!). Or, take up a hobby such as knitting or crocheting. It can keep your hands too busy to dip into the snack bowl. Added bonus? A new sweater, afghan or a very special gift for a favorite niece.
- Sleepless Nights. Are late-night snacks your downfall? If you can’t sleep and find yourself craving food in the middle of the night, try to ride it out by distracting yourself from the urge to snack. Try reading a book, or playing an online game to keep your mind busy until you’re sleepy enough to head into bed.
- The Break-Up. Ok, maybe it’s not an actual break-up, but any situation that leaves you feeling hurt, angry or confused can lead to an an all-out eating splurge. Instead of settling in with a spoon and a tub of Rocky Road, or calling your local pizza joint, reach for the DVDs. Pull out your favorite tear-jerker and have yourself a good cry. Even better – instead of sublimating, face your feelings head-on. Reach for a pen and write a nasty letter, or spill it all to your BFF.
Finally, don’t forget that sometimes, when your body wants a snack it’s because it needs a snack. Keep a variety of healthy snack foods around so that when the cravings hit, you can fill up on something healthy. A few of our favorites include raw almonds, grab-and-go fruit (bananas, tangerines, grapes, etc.), or veggies and hummus. If you have more tips/tricks, add them to the comments. We’d love to hear what works for you!