Do you find yourself walking back and forth from the kitchen every hour or two, just because? Have you gotten in the habit of grazing? Are you eating even when you’re not hungry? This is snacking at it’s finest. You’re answering the body before it has hunger cues and even before cravings, desires, and urges come on. So it this okay? Let’s explore more in today’s episode “Is it okay to snack.”
Today I’d like to discuss the topic of snacking as we seem to be confused about it as a species. Food guidelines have led us to believe that we should eat something every couple of hours. We’ve conditioned our bodies to respond to that guideline, resulting in larger waistlines, never ending cravings, and a sense that we’re doing the right thing for our bodies because we’re following the guidelines. I want to be clear that I’m not talking to someone who has a medical condition where they are suppose to eat every couple of hours and even if that is the case, I can help you with making the right food decisions. I’m talking to the people who truly know that the way they are eating now isn’t working for them. It isn’t working for their kids. They know this because their weight keeps creeping up, mood swings are happening, fatigue and even depression are a factor. If you think snacking and grazing has nothing to do with these symptoms, think again.
It’s all about balancing the blood sugar
When you’re grazing every hour or couple of hours, blood sugar keeps spiking. What happens when our blood sugar levels keep going up? All those side affects I mentioned above yes, but mostly we start having a problem with our weight so much so that it turns into overweight, then eventually obesity. According to Dr. Fung’s book “The obesity code”, we shouldn’t be snacking at all due to blood sugar levels increasing. Our mid section starts to accumulate fat which can be downright dangerous for not only our health, but for our children’s as well. So how do we combat this and get those blood sugar levels and insulin level’s regulated? My number one suggestion is to retrain the brain and body to stop grazing and snacking.
Retraining the brain and body
How do we retrain the brain and body not to snack once we’re already in the habit of doing it? I suggest setting timers between feedings. After you eat breakfast, set a timer for 4-5 hours. Tell your brain “we’re not eating again until this timer goes off.” You’ll begin to be mindful about actually eating meals instead of pieces of this and that. Sit down at a table and fully enjoy and take in your meal without the distraction of t.v. Go slowly. Don’t rush through your food. Set a 15-20 min timer on your meal. Chew your food thoroughly. Give your body time to digest and breakdown your previous bite of food before you inhale another. Start being mindful about taking it slow. Instead of eating to be full, eat to be satisfied. Learn how to check in with your body to understand what satisfied feels like as opposed to being full. As you set timers between feedings and slow down, you’ll notice a shift in the way your body responds to food. You’ll notice a shift in your brain needing a dopamine hit from food. You’ll notice your cravings, desires, and urges start to go away. Retrain your body and brain & your health will improve.
But what about your healthy snackboards?
It’s true, if you see my stuff on Instagram – Health_Coach_Heather (during a normal school is in session year), you’ll see lots of ideas for after school snack boards. Let me explain how the snack boards work. Knowing that my children’s hungriest time of day is about 4:00pm when they get off the bus, I like to have a big snack board full of healthy whole foods ready for them to eat. I find that at this very hour, they are much more likely to eat healthier foods presented to them, and it also serves a role as their dinner. I still make dinner around 6:30pm, but I have found that my kids eat very little dinner because they ate from that snack board. And this is how are bodies are suppose to function. Our digestion is burning hottest midday, so it’s wise to eat the largest meal between 11am-2:00pm. Kids digestion burns a bit longer. So come evening time, we only need a small handful of food, not an entire plate, to satisfy us. This helps our digestive system to truly rest during the evening hours instead of burning a bunch of food. So if you’d like, you can get in the habit of putting together a snack board for your kids and yourself around lunch time, or late afternoon. Use it in place of a meal. You’ll fill up on all the right foods if you put this snack board together properly.
Make a 24 hour plan
Another idea I love that I give to my clients, is to make a 24 hour plan for the foods they will eat the next day. If they especially have a problem with grazing, this tip will be helpful. Write down in detail what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and if you will eat snacks. When you think about this in advance, you’re using your prefrontal cortex (higher brain). This is the part of the brain we want to take action from. We’re thinking clearly when we use this part of our brain. So plan it out and learn how to hold yourself accountable to your plan.
Kids & snacking
You can even create healthy eating habits in kids by teaching them not to snack. They’ll soon catch on that if they want food, they need to eat meals when they are served. This may sound strict, but the alternative is a child grabbing food whenever they want. This leads to overweight children with very poor habits around food and emotional eating. Don’t you think it best to teach them healthy eating when they are young? I certainly do. You can simply choose to “Close the kitchen” as soon as a meal is served and cleaned up. You can even set a timer for each mealtime. I would suggest one that magnetizes to the fridge. This gives children a good gauge of how long they need to wait between meals. For kids, I usually say 3 hours is good. Adults, I like to go 4-5 hours so I can really retrain my brain and my body around food.
But what if I just have to snack?
If you absolutely have to snack, think of foods that are complex carbs. These are foods that have natural sugars, fiber, and or protein. It’s a slow release of glucose instead of a spike. Eat a handful of pistachios, almonds or walnuts, hummus and veggies, apple with almond butter. Anything with minimal or no processing is what you’re going for. Skip the vending machine at work, unless they have those items I just mentioned. Think string cheese, and “Mary’s gone cracker’s” – all good choices with minimal processing. Be sure to grab my ‘SNACK BOARDS DOWNLOAD’ – so you have a plethora of ideas in case you do need a snack between meals.
When it comes down to it, my goal is to help you choose healthier foods in all area’s, so your body can be energized from real food.
Are you addicted to food and snacking? I can totally help you out. Come get coached. Even one session will give you ideas and motivation to free yourself from food addictions and overeating. I have just a couple of spots left in my calendar this week for coaching. HERE is a link where you can sign up for a 1:1 coaching session with my. You’ll get 2 sessions for the price of 1!
Do you snack? If so, what do you love snacking on? Post it in the comments below.
Until next week – CHEERS!