When I was at Royston Open Secrets a month ago, several people talked to me about weight issues and the problem of ‘snacking’. Snacks can be a real problem if you are trying to lose weight, as things like crisps and chocolate add unwanted calories.
My first question to anyone with a snacking problem is “Are you eating because you are physically hungry of emotionally hungry?” Physical hunger comes on slowly and is associated with tiredness, stomach pangs and lowering of energy levels, tiredness. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and isn’t satisfied by food, in fact you might feel sick after you’ve eaten.
If you think you are physically hungry, try drinking a glass of water. The signals from the brain that tell you that you are hungry are similar to those for thirst so it’s a good idea to check which it is. After you’ve had a drink, leave it 20 minutes and if you still think you are hungry, eat something healthy like a banana or some dried fruit. It’s a good idea not to let yourself get too hungry between meals because, if you do, you are more likely to want to eat carbohydrates when you do eat.
Emotional hunger is associated with feelings such as boredom, frustration, anger and sadness. When I worked in a large office, if I started to get bored, I would wander off to the vending machine for a chocolate bar. I would often eat it before I got back to my desk and I still felt bored – and a bit sick!
So, if you get a sudden onset of hunger, stop and take a few deep breaths, making the out breath a bit longer than the in breath. Acknowledge the emotion that you are experiencing and stay with it for a few moments noticing how it changes. If it’s possible, go for a short walk, preferably outside so that you can focus on nature. If it’s not possible to take a break then just close your eyes for a moment and think about your favourite image making the image as clear and colourful and detailed as you can. Once the negative emotion has reduced the compulsion to eat should reduce too.
If you do eat a snack, make sure that it is something you enjoy and always sit down and eat it consciously and slowly.
Give it a try.