Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Article # 296. Beat Mindless Munching Traps

We all know that potion control and cutting out unhealthy snacks are some of the cornerstones of weight control, but beating the urge to nibble non-stop between meals is easier said than done for most of us. Here are some of the most common situations where people tend to “zombie snack” and tips to cut out this nasty, diet-destroying habit!

At Work: Do you ever reach that 3pm plateau, when your eyelids are drooping and you simply can’t concentrate, so you head off to the break room in search of coffee, water or whatever munchies your co-worker has left out? Instead of binging on empty calories, take a few minutes out of your workday to go chat with a co-worker, take a walk around the block, or simply do a bit of stretching in your chair.

Watching TV: Do you ever plonk down in front of the TV with a bag of potato chips, and before you realize it, you have eaten half the bag and you don’t even remember doing it? This is called amnesia eating and we do a lot of it in front of the TV or computer. Make each calorie you consume accountable by sitting down at the dinner table for your meals and snacks as well. If you must eat in in front of the TV or at your work desk, then measure out a small snack portion instead of attacking the whole bag.

Driving: Drive through food has a tendency to be high on calories and fat anyway, and through long rides we tend to switch on our munch and sip buttons. Plan ahead and bring portion-controlled snacks like a bag of nuts or granola to sustain you through the ride. Keep water or de-caf green tea handy to check the stress hormones your brain produces while driving.
Restaurant Eating: You are waiting for your meal to arrive, so you eat a couple of rolls from the bread basket or keep munching on the large serving of fries in your plate. Next time at a restaurant, pick only what you would really like to eat, skipping the nachos and breads on the house, and demand healthy swaps for sides.

The best thing you can do to stop mindless snacking is to simply BE AWARE. Also these tactics are very handy:

Record everything you eat for one week, including all those “bites” you have between meals, add them up to see how much its costing your figure.

Snack on measured portions of complex carbs and good fats with staying power like low-fat yogurt, granola or a whole wheat muffin and peanut butter.

Record what you are doing before you eat. Once you’ve identified the things that drive you to raid your candy stash, you can react productively instead of eating half a pound of chocolate.

Learn to wait out the 20 minutes it takes for your brain’s stress levels to fall and serotonin to go up, passing up the hunger pang.

Chew gum for a little oral fix. Research indicates that gum chewers deal with stress and related hunger signals far more effectively.

Don’t give yourself food when your hypothalamus is sending thirst signals!