Is it difficult to stop after eating just one cookie, chocolate, or other sweet? Or maybe salty, crunchy foods like potato chips and pretzels are your snack of choice. Snacking cravings can be tough to ignore, but with few simple tips, you can stop these urges. Or, find more constructive ways to deal with them.
Why do you always feel snacking urges?
There are several reasons we feel the urge to polish off a bag of chips, or a box of chocolates. Some are physical, others more psychological. Here are a few:
- Low blood sugar level
- permanent stress
Low blood sugar levels can promote snacking
There are many causes of mindless snacking, but there’s often a direct connection with our blood sugar level. If this drops sharply, our body sends a signal that it lacks energy, so we feel an urge to supply the cells with sugar, whether we need it or not.
Whenever we eat something that contains carbohydrates such as bread, fruit or chocolate, our blood sugar level rises and the body produces insulin, a hormone that lowers the blood sugar level again. After sweets such as jelly beans or white flour products, blood sugar levels rise quickly and sharply. Due to the subsequent high insulin release, it drops again quickly and deeply a short time later. The body reacts to it with a desire to snack, because such a low blood sugar level is associated with a lack of food.
Psychological Causes of Snacking
If low blood sugar causes hunger pangs, the right choice of food can have some influence on them.
For other causes, such as permanent stress, fatigue, or boredom, go to the root of the issue. Comfort food might make us feel better for a little while, but once the sugar high has worn off, we’re usually left feeling worse than before. Our stress is still there, and now the extra empty calories we just ate could create even more stress!
Start with little ways to reduce stress. Relaxing throughout the day and getting sufficient sleep can also help to stop munching urges.
If you constantly feel powerless by uncontrolled snacking urges, you might want to seek out professional help from a doctor or a qualified nutritionist. There might be something more serious at play than an inability to resist the dessert tray.
More Tips to Stop Mindless Snacking
- Eat regular meals – Skipping meals promotes munchies, so eat balanced meals three times a day. Supplement them with healthy snacks to ward off extra cravings.
- Fill up on fiber-rich foods, like whole grain foods and vegetables.
- Consume protein-rich foods such as eggs, nuts, and fish to keep you full longer
- Satisfy your munchies with fruit, nuts or a slice of whole grain bread with jam instead of sweets. A boiled egg or a slice of ham with cucumber can also help you get over a small hunger attack.
- Drink plenty of water or herbal tea throughout the day. You should at least 1.5 liters (about 100 oz).
- Regular exercise will help speed up your metabolism, increase your endorphins (happy hormones), and help get your mind off of potential stressors.
- Distract yourself from eating by other activities, like chewing gum or talking on the phone
- Don’t be too strict or hard on yourself- bans are usually counterproductive and you’ll get even more snacking urges. It is better to enjoy something consciously when you choose to indulge.
- Remove sweets and unhealthy snacks from your house. They’re just too tempting!
- Brushing your teeth after eating helps you eat less. The fresh mint taste of the toothpaste can reduce your desire for more food.
How do you deal with your snacking cravings?
Although our desires for unhealthy snacks can be a nuisance, they can be a legitimate signal from our body. With a little research into the causes and a few small changes in everyday life, you can make better snacking and food choices.
What are your best snacking tips? Write us a comment or talk about it with friends and family in the FamilyApp.