As normal-ish routines start to resume, children go back to school and work starts up again, you may find yourself reaching for the sweet treats fuelled by thoughts like, ‘this will get me through to dinner time’ or, ‘I need a quick fix to give me energy’.
You may even grab a sugary snack when you feel the stress rise over that pending ‘to do list’ that seems to have increased now the children have gone back to school. Or the pressure to keep up with the school emails, work emails, after-school club information or endless what’s app groups. Don’t beat yourself up, we have been conditioned to use food to feel better.
But over snacking makes you put on weight when you eat more than your body requires for fuel. And that just adds one more thing to do to the list – lose weight. Only problem is… I am guessing you are last on the list, and that makes you feel worse.
We have been conditioned that snacking is good for us. We have been conditioned to eat when we are not hungry. Snack giants have created processed and easy to grab snacks to mindlessly eat for bursts of energy. They may even have healthy stuff in them like small percentages of fruit, or nuts. But most have lots of sugar.
Your body has an unnatural reaction to sugar. Because sugar is concentrated, it causes an unnatural response in your body that produces a big dose of dopamine (a feel good chemical in the brain), your body thinks sugar is essential to survival. When you use your smart brain to logically think about this, you know sugar is not essential for survival and a big problem in visceral fat which surrounds our organs and shows up as belly fat. This is one of a long line of health concerns we face as we put on weight.
After rather obliviously conditioning our bodies at certain parts of the day to require sugar, we have physical cravings when we don’t oblige and give our body what it wants. This can be fixed. I know how.
Getting rid of cravings is possible and can take less than 2 weeks. Reducing snacking not only means you will put on less weight it also means your body can access the fat already stored for energy. Ewww, I hear you say? But true! You are essentially eating in. Hunger is not an emergency, unless of course you have little body fat. In that case, I don’t think you would have read this far.
So, if you want a more even release of energy during the day, or if you want to stop the big highs and lows that have been created by conditioning your body to crave sugar and regular snacks, you will need to listen to your body. You will need to eat when you experience actual physical hunger. This is a new concept for many of my clients and through some work with hunger scales we are able to recognise, and often welcome, physical hunger. Apply the tips below to help you to ease back on the snacking.
When using the tips below, you don’t need to give up snacking completely. I suggest you use a gradual approach if the all or nothing approach feels too restrictive. Make a series of small changes over time that become the way you prefer to eat. It is a choice that you make for yourself in order to take care of you and your energy levels.
5 Top Tips to Stop you from Reaching for a Sugary Snack
1. Plan 24 hours in advance when you will snack and what you will snack on. Write it down. Write it in your phone or on a sticky note in the cupboard, whatever works. Making these decisions ahead of time definitely puts your prefrontal cortex in charge. This is the part of the brain that looks out for your future wellbeing. For more on this topic refer back to my blog on How to Commit to your Weight Loss Goal at Special Events, particularly the part on planning ahead of time.
2. Understand that if you have quite a lot of sugar in your daily intake, your body will have been conditioned to crave sugar. If you decide to cut out sugar as opposed to reduce it gradually, you may experience physical side-affects such as: headaches, lethargy, nausea or in some cases interruptions to sleep. Nothing has gone wrong here. You can and will move through this! Your long term goal outweighs the short term discomfort.
These symptoms may last for a few days to a couple of weeks. You decide whether you want to give up sugar completely (natural sugar in fruit is fine), or whether you want to reduce sugar gradually. The results of weight loss and feeling more consistent energy during the day definitely make reducing or cutting out sugar worth it.
3. Decide if you are: physically hungry, experiencing a craving for sugar, or just had a common thought like ‘I need a boost of energy to get me through to dinner’. The last one may pop it’s head up like a well known friend as soon as you walk through the front door. Practice only eating if you are physically hungry. Getting conscious to your hunger is important.
4. Practice the thought ‘Hunger is not an emergency’. You can definitely be hungry and still function. Think about times when you were so engaged in an activity that you forgot to eat. What happened? Presumably you just ate something when you realised you were hungry right? I am not asking you to starve yourself, I am asking you to experiment in reducing your snacks in the day and experience the little sensation of hunger that comes and goes in your stomach.
5. Change your snack up. If you are up for making small changes to the preferred way you eat, why not swap your planned sugar snack for something with less sugar, for example, a piece of fruit, carrots and hummus, or some nuts. If it feels like too much to do this for a whole week, then do it for a couple of days in the week and see what comes up for you. You may like to cut one of the snacks out for one or 2 days in the week in an effort to experience the hunger sensation.
Getting rid of the desire for sugar is freeing. Not snacking as often frees up time. Snacking less and feeling hungry helps you to lose weight. If you are ready to commit to losing weight and getting rid of your overdesire for snacks and sugar click here, scroll down to send me a message to find out how my step by step Stop Overeating Program will change your life. While you are there submit your email to get regular blog posts and other relevant information sent straight to your inbox.
Have a wonderful week