1) Have a drink instead of a snack
As we’ve mentioned in a previous post about the benefits of carrying a water bottle, you can trick your body into thinking it’s already full. By drinking instead of eating, you increase the volume of what’s in your belly and stretch the stomach lining. As a result, you stimulate a sense of fullness. It doesn’t have to be water though, you can drink tea or coffee as well, just be careful having fizzy drinks as these contain high amounts of sugar (diet sodas aren’t much better either). Having a full glass of water not only hydrates you, but is a good way to prevent the urge to snack.
2) Find healthier ways to snack
Part of the problem of snacking is that, often, it involves unhealthy foods like crisps or biscuits that, over time, add up to taking in more calories than you burn. Instead, why not try carrot sticks or celery, or some unsalted nuts, at least these are more nutritious! At the same time, try to empty your snack cupboard or fridge of calorie-dense foods. Keep them out of sight as a special treat, but only once in a blue moon. If you have to get out a small stepladder every time you want a snack, it is unlikely you would go for it in the first place. Similarly, choose snacks that require effort, like cherries or pistachios. These take a while to eat (see next point) and the shells or pits leave evidence of how much you’ve eaten.
3) Don’t rush when you’re eating
Have you ever seen those hot dog eating competitions? Or watched Man vs Food? As fun as these both look (despite being horrendously bad for you), they both use one particular strategy when engaged in competition – eating as fast as they can, sometimes without chewing. This comes down to the signals that are sent from the stomach to the brain. The faster you eat, the less time your stomach has to notify the brain once it is full. Overcome this by eating more slowly. Chew each chunk of food for a longer period of time, then put your fork down and take a few moments before picking up the next bite – better for digestion, better for staving off rapid weight gain.
4) Make your main meals nutritious and sustaining
This is where we come in. If your breakfasts, lunches and dinners are well-balanced meals, with lots of lean protein, healthy fats and fibrous complex carbs (as opposed to those with a high GI), then you are more likely to feel fuller for longer. Protein and fibre usually come in the form of meat, seafood, poultry, fruits and vegetables. These foods are generally harder to overeat and will have you feeling fuller in proportion to the calories ingested. Imagine, for example, how much chicken breast or salad leaves you could eat before you’ve reached your limit. Put them together and you’re on the road to success as you’ll quickly feel full eating at a calorie deficit. It’s part of the reason chicken appears in a lot of our dishes.
5) Keep yourself busy
As mentioned, the usual culprit for snacking is boredom. When you have nothing else to do, especially if you’re dieting, having something to eat is all you’re going to think about. After a while, even the strongest willed struggle with pushing away their desires. Instead, try to think about something else. As easy as this sounds to say, give it a go. Go for a walk, or push yourself to do some chores. Being busy is the best way to occupy the mind. There’s certainly been days, whether at university or during work, where you’ve forgotten to eat for long stretches of time. This is because you were so focused on what’s in front of you. Try to recreate this feeling and take advantage of it.