Updated: Oct 28, 2020
The other day, one of my clients asked me how I feel about snacking. Of course, my favorite way to answer a client question is with another question, so I asked her how SHE felt about snacking. She shared her thoughts and we continued to talk about snacking in the context of her wanting to lose weight and gain more energy. I never did get to tell her about my thoughts on snacking, so I thought I would share them with y'all here 💗.
How I feel about snacking is simple and still answered with a question - are you actually hungry? No really, when you want a snack are you actually hungry? Or are you having a craving? Or is it because it's 3:00pm or my fav because you think you should have a snack? I love snacking as much as the next person and as a health coach will never tell you that you shouldn't have the snack. However, as a health coach I will also highly encourage you to understand WHY you want to snack. Because knowing the why behind your snacking allows you to make the best decision on how to snack so it fuels your body. And even more importantly, how to snack in order to fuel your soul.
So, I encourage my clients to, you guessed it, ask themselves questions when the urge to snack hits.
The first question you should ask yourself is "When was the last time I drank a glass of water?" The human body is an amazing thing, but like a young child, it's vocabulary is limited. So you have to decipher the signals your body is sending and by process of elimination figure out what your body is trying to tell you. For example, did you know that your body sends a hunger cue or signal when it actually needs water. So if you are feeling hungry, as yourself the above question. If the answer to your question is "I can't remember...", drink a glass of water (or 2 😲) and wait 10 minutes. If your body's hunger cue is still going strong, have yourself a snack because your body needs fuel to make it to your next meal.
Another question you could ask yourself when the urge to snack hits is "Am I hungry for *SPECIFIC SALTY/SWEET SNACK* OR am I hungry for a small portion of fish and veggies?" If the answer is your favorite sweet/salty snack, you are experiencing a craving. Cravings are fascinating things - a cue sent from your body, placed inside a glass case of emotions, urging you to eat. Let's break this down for a hot second. Have you ever craved a hearty meal (think chicken alfredo or chili) on a cold day? Have you ever wanted the whole bag of cookies (if you're a sweet person) or chips (if your a salty person) on a stressful day? What about the leftover cake, just because it's there waiting to be eaten? These are cravings..."hunger" driven by an emotion or feeling. Hunger is in parenthesis because you may not actually be hungry, but the urge to eat whatever it is you are craving is so strong, you end up eating it, and eating it all. Hey, it happens to the best of us - there's no shame in feeding your cravings. But by taking the extra step to ask yourself the above question you can learn that it's a craving and remind yourself it's just the physical response to an emotional state you are experiencing. With this knowledge, don't you think you could approach your craving smartly? Get to the root cause of the craving? So instead of stress eating the whole package of cookies, maybe you take a few deep breaths or go for a short walk to relieve your stress. If you're still craving the cookies, maybe you then eat just one or two and add in a healthy protein or fat to balance it out. With these extra steps you gain knowledge and with the extra knowledge, you're in control over your craving. Arguably, even more important, by taking control over your thoughts and actions, you're not falling down the rabbit hole of guilt that inevitably happens when you lose control to your craving.
What should you do if you want to resist your craving? Treat it like your five-year old and distract it. Drink some water, change your scenery, call a friend or family member, focus on something that brings you joy. If, after 10 minutes, you're still thinking about the dang bag of cookies decide how you want to proceed - continue to resist (I don't recommend this) or indulge smartly. If you're not sure how to indulge smartly or you need some ideas on how to eat snacks that fuel your body, download my free snack recipe book below. It has 10 delicious and fueling snack ideas you can make in 5 minutes.