The Problem With Snacking
You're not a bird
As much as I wished I was an animal when I played in the backyard as a kid, I wasn't then and I'm not now—so why did I eat every two to three hours? Well, because of my anxiety growing up, I feel anxiety most in my stomach, which leads me to not only feel full but sick after four bites.
"I eat like a bird," I'd say as an excuse, shrugging, because low-and-behold, an hour later I was scavenging the fridge for snacks.
Snacks have a few problems: First, it's unlikely your snack will fill you up, therefore you're left unsatisfied and will either continue eating or eat more in another hour or so. Second, there are a lot of calories in snacks. Sure, 1 caramel rice cake is only 51 calories but I dare you to refrain from eating more than just one.
One day I was on Tesco's online grocery store ogling at all the snacks I couldn't get in the Tesco down the street. There were mini-cookies for 86 calories per bag, caramel wafers at 71 calories per wafer, popcorn at 129 calories per serving, and the list continued!
Sounds like the perfect guilt-free snack, right?
Well, not if they're so good you can't stop eating them. One bag of mini-cookies just isn't enough. I mean, it's like 5 cookies, each the size of a 10p coin (25 cents, for my Americans). That's not enough! I want three bags, and then whoops—I just consumed 258 calories and I'm still not satisfied.
This is the issue I have with protein bars. While they're a great go-to snack, three bites and it's gone and I've just consumed about 250 calories but I'm still starving.
eat more like a lion
When I realized that keeping snacks in my flat was deterring my weight-lost progress because I had little self-control, I threw out the snacks, stopped buying them, and focused on eating large meals that would fill me up.
The combination of getting my anxiety under control plus cutting out snacks taught me that I did, indeed, not eat like a bird and ate more like a lion. I could devour a plate of venison and lounge about afterwards with a full stomach watching 30 Rock on my iPad.
If you're struggling with snacking too much and never feeling satisfied, here are my suggestions:
I do intermittent fasting, which means I don't eat breakfast, so I can eat bigger meals at the end of the day with the saved calories. I wrote a whole post about IF here.
When I do feel a bit of hunger pangs, I have a black coffee. I suggest you find a nice, independent coffee shop that will serve you single-origin beans because it'll actually taste good. Coffee gets a bad rep because of instant drip-coffee. Gross. I think the sign of a good coffee shop is whether or not they serve pour-overs like the Kalita Wave or Aeropress, while my coffee connoisseur boyfriend says it's whether or not they serve long blacks. Get a pour-over if you want something light and tea-like. Get a long black if you want something shorter with bite to it. (If you live in Edinburgh, check out my post of my favorite places for coffee.)
Sometimes when you feel hungry, you're actually just dehydrated, so pound back some water. Not very exciting? Well, maybe a lemon wedge or sparkling water will help spice it up.
Eat vegetables and salad before your meal. Vegetables have very little in calories and are guaranteed to fill you up. Before my meals I have a salad with low-fat dressing and then add a heaping of vegetables like brussels sprouts or broccoli to my plate. Oven roasted vegetables with a little bit of salt and ketchup are sooo freaking good, I swear it.
Save the carbs for bedtime. I feel fullest when I have carbs—and laziest. For lunch I have a high protein-high fat meal like chicken with salad, so I can stay alert and keep on working. At night I'll add sweet potatoes or tortillas to my dinner meal, and then finish the night off with a load of carbs for dessert. And then I sleep like a baby...
If you are desperate for a little somethin'-somethin', you might get some inspiration from the sneaky snacks I've learned to love as alternatives to the cookies and wafers.
diced apple with sweetener and cinnamon
1 apple diced up, put in a bowl, (optional: and in the microwave for 30 seconds), and dust with sweetener and cinnamon. 1 apple is roughly 80 calories.
I follow this recipe but I add cocoa powder and take out the protein powder. Roughly 200-300 calories, depending on if you use protein powder.
Fat-free greek yogurt with honey
100 grams of yogurt is only 56 calories, plus a drizzle of honey adds 32 calories on top of that.
My bootleg hot chocolate is trying really hard to taste like legit hot chocolate but doesn't really compare. It's good enough to satisfy the cravings though.
Mix 1 serving of cocoa powder in a mug with sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, 3-5 grams of coconut oil, and a wee pinch of salt. I like it to be 1/3 hot water, 2/3 almond milk, so I put it in the microwave until it's warm enough. Calculating the cocoa powder and coconut oil with 200 ml of almond milk, this baby is only 108 calories. You might have to play around with the amount of cocoa to taste until you find your own version of this drink.
(click here if you have no idea what TL;DR means)
Stop buying snacks, eat large, fulfilling meals with vegetables, and save your carbs for nighttime.