Snacking is a relatively new thing. Up until the last 30-40 years or so, we pretty much only ate the 3 meals a day and maybe some fruit here and there. Today there are thousands of options that didn’t exist when many of us were kids and definitely not when most of our parents were kids. In the course of a generation, our chances of eating healthy were flipped upside down. In most grocery stores there are hundreds of different types of cookies, chips, candies, and baked goods. The opportunity to indulge exists like never before and this isn’t something people of the past had to deal with. As we know, obesity is on the rise and it’s no surprise snacking is too. There is no denying that the act of snacking is part of the problem. Let’s just say things can’t catch fire without a spark. Snacks coming into our world made staying in shape a very difficult task and it’s one I think you might want to eliminate.
1. The Mind Trap
Think of some of your favorite snacks. For me, it would be gummy candies, Smartfood, and my absolute favorite, cheese and crackers. These foods are rarely eaten when I’m paying attention and I’d bet most of your favorite snacks are eaten in a similar way. Snack foods are often consumed when we’re distracted from some form of entertainment. Whether it be tv, phone, computer, or magazine, we’re consuming these foods in a daze. This act is the complete opposite of what we hope to encourage: mindful eating. One of my big “rules” for people is to eliminate eating in front of entertainment. If you do that you can no longer accidentally hit the bottom of a bag of candy. A good test is to ask yourself if you’d sit a table alone and eat it. Most of the time you’ll say no because it would be ridiculous to sit quietly with a little plate of candy.
2. Hunger Tease
After I eat I like to be satisfied. Not overly stuffed but enough where I’m no longer hungry. Planning snack time prevents that and usually results in me being kind of hungry all day long until I get to put something more substantial in my mouth. The reason being is that when you split a day’s calories/macros into 6-7 mini-meals we don’t allow ourselves to be satiated. I know everyone is a bit different but when we eat mini-meals the likelihood of hunger coming back sooner is much higher than if we had a larger, more filling meal.
3. Where’s the Protein?
If you are out and about googling food online, you’ll see this common question. “What snacks that have protein?” And you’ll see 3 suggestions. Beef jerky, yogurt, or a candy bar (otherwise known as a protein bar) that might have 10-20 grams of protein in it and probably double the carbs. There aren’t many snacks that have protein and there’s a reason for it. First, it’s expensive, and second, it’s filling. If I’m a snack seller I’m going to make them cheap and I’m going to make you want more of them. Protein is pretty much the opposite of that.
4. Sunken Costs
Buying a bunch of junk food that ends up making us HUNGRIER just eats away at the wallet. We become fatter and poorer. But we keep doing it anyway. When people start a traditional diet, they go home and throw out ALL the junk food. Wasted money again. All food had a place in your diet, it's about teaching you where that place is, and how often you may visit that place.
5. The Unhealthy Habit
Any time I suggest reducing snacking to clients, they look at me like I asked them to birth an elephant. Not happening. If you're living an overall healthy lifestyle I’m not too concerned about some snack foods but I am concerned with the snack habits. You see, most people who track will take a specific serving size of the snack food, but what about the person who isn’t tracking? Eliminating the habit of snacking is why this advice is important. It’s not about the food. That goes with anything we do, really. It’s always about the actions and the reasons behind them. Sure you’re making the right decision now, but I’m more concerned with you making the right decision now, tomorrow, and into the future.
Snacking is a part of life and I don't like to set unrealistic expectations. You will snack, you will indulge, and you still will see success. But if you’re not on a smooth path on your overall eating and you’re looking for something to improve it might be a good idea to join team No Snack. Whether you’re a food tracker or not, eliminating the opportunity to overeat is a huge win for long term success.
-Mike Doehla, Stronger U Nutrition