Mindless Snacking

Pat Frock

Fitness Writer


A lot of people have a problem with mindless snacking. This is how it usually goes.

You’re motivated to start losing weight. You get everything planned out and start your first day. The first day might go well. You might even make it through days two and three. But then you fall off plan. You see something in your pantry or fridge or you run to the grocery store to buy something you’ve been craving. A few bites turn into a few more and you don’t stop until you’re either stuffed or feeling guilty.

Unfortunately, that behavior tends to create a negative feedback cycle and you start your first week over and over again until you eventually just give up until you decide to start another diet.

You might not feel deprived or restricted at first, but as time goes on the urge to eat the foods you’ve cut out start to build.  Eventually you succumb to the feelings and eat recklessly.

Step 1 -end your all or nothing attitude. Start viewing food as food, not as bad or good, or OK or off limits, or healthy or not.  Food exists on a spectrum and has many different purposes. It is not just fuel. It is also a source of enjoyment, so don’t be afraid to use it as such.

Step 2- schedule your snacks

You must give yourself permission to eat these foods. This is huge and is key to you taking back control over food. The trick is to measure out your portions beforehand and not eat from the bag, box, or other container. If you do the latter you will overeat, as we tend stop eating when the food is gone.

For most people, 300 free calories per day is plenty to satisfy any cravings. For people under 160lbs or so you might only need 200 calories.  This equates to between 10-20% of total calories. If the other 80-90% of your calories are coming from whole foods you are going to meet all your nutrient requirements.

Your overall nutrition is likely to improve, as a diet that consists of 80/20 (whole foods to fun foods) and lasts a lifetime is much healthier than a diet that’s 100% whole foods that lasts only 1 week.

Step 3 – Remind Yourself Food Isn’t Going Away

This part is very important. While eating your fun food you must remind yourself that this food is not going to disappear. Much of the mindless eating continues because people subconsciously feel like their favorite foods are going to go away in the name of weight loss. So they eat them way past satisfaction. This is called “last supper mentality”.  You eat all you can because you think it’s not going to be around. It makes sense then to solve this problem by NOT having the foods go away.   Your goal is to remind yourself, while eating, that the food you’re currently indulging in isn’t going away. If you want you can have it again tomorrow, the next day, and the next. You could have it every single day if you wanted.

When you tell yourself this the last supper mentality diminishes and you become more mindful of what’s going on in front of you. Emotions don’t get in the way.

Instead, you’re able to notice when you’re satisfied, and you can stop eating without feeling deprived. After all, the food will be there again tomorrow.

Change the way you think about your food. Give yourself permission to have the foods you enjoy. Eat them mindfully and in control. Remind yourself that they aren’t going away.

If you do these things you will find a lot more peace in your weight loss program. And as a result, your chances of success will greatly improve.