Avoid Mindless Snacking with These Helpful Distractions
To snack, or not to snack: that is the question. More often than not, snacking is the answer. I mean, if you’re hungry, have a damn snack. I’m not here to tell you to ignore legitimate hunger. What I’m here to address is the uber-common scenario where you’re tempted to snack out of boredom, a shitty mood, or just because it’s there.
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Related: Calorie Cycling: Why I Cycle My Calories and Why It Might Be Right for You, Too
I’m a macro-tracker and I love it, but the snacking conundrum applies to all of us, whether we track meticulously or not at all. Everyone can relate to eating a higher calorie meal or treat some days. And occasionally, we’d all rather drink our calories than eat them. These choices, though perfectly fine, might not leave us an elaborate calorie budget to play with the remainder of the day. Even if you don’t count calories, they count!
Related: I Started Tracking Macros at my “Happy” Weight, and Here’s What Happened
Being in the habit of having my chips and salsa, plus dessert(s) of some kind most nights, I miss them on the nights I “can’t” have them. Please know I can have them, because I know how to perform the physical act of eating. I’m not stupid. But this is about balance and moderation. In order to reach and maintain goals, I simply can not enjoy all of everything everyday. No matter how much we want to take a stand against, and not succumb to, dreaded “diet culture,” we still need to exercise restraint now and again – otherwise we’d all weigh 600 pounds. That is, unless we all died from obesity-related diseases first.
Related: 10 Tips for Healthier Snacking
Once in awhile I need to find something to do to occupy my time besides eat. And that’s okay! It’s easier to keep your hands and mouth away from the candy dish or bag of chips when you’re keeping your body and mind busy. Here are some things I do to pass the time when I’m in a snacky mood, but not exactly hungry, and have already squandered my “fun money” calories for the day.
- Take a bath or shower
I’m not talking a quick rinse-off here. I’m saying, fill the tub or warm up the shower while you brush your hair, dim the lights, light some candles, turn on some music, and get ready for a magical endeavour. Do all the things. Wash, soap, shave, exfoliate, deep condition, and just marinate in the hot water and bubbles for a while. Close your eyes and relax.
Another plus of doing this is you’re unplugged, not staring at a screen, and have a chance to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe those are common occurrences for you, but they’re not for me, and it’s always refreshing.
If you’ve got more time to kill and wanna stay outta the kitchen, take this opportunity to personal hygiene the shiznit out of yourself. Here are some ideas:
a) Apply face and foot masks / Practice skincare
Once you’re done in the bath/shower, or at least a quick face and foot wash, bust out one of the face and/or foot mask pouches or bottles you know you’ve got sitting under the bathroom sink or buried in a drawer. If you don’t have one, make your own face mask or foot mask and start rejuvenating! This is the kind of stuff I don’t typically take the time to do because I’m either too busy or too lazy, but it’s always a pleasant experience.
Once the masks are peeled and rinsed off, pluck and trim your brows and any other errant hairs sprouting up here and there. #IYKYK I’m 37 years old – I have to pluck a couple from my chinny chin chin and shave the tops of my big toes. I’m just relieved I don’t need to bleach my upper lip (yet).
b) Apply self-tanner
Here’s another I only do once in a blue moon, like before a trip to the pool or prior to taking progress pictures for my fitness Instagram account. LOL It helps. Jus’ sayin’. Mostly I don’t do this often because I don’t have the time during the day, and I prefer to spend my 2 hours of “me” time after the kids are in bed sitting on my ass eating my snacks. But desperate times call for desperate measures – when you’re looking to keep yourself away from the fridge, this is a good option. Plus, you’ll look delightfully sun-kissed when you’re done without the cancer risk and all that jazz. Win-win.
Related: Why I Love My Fitness Instagram Account, and Tips For Starting Your Own
c) Give yourself a mani/pedi
This is a favorite of mine because it requires me to be sitting down, which I very much enjoy. Usually, my idea of a manicure is trimming my nails at red lights while I’m bustling off somewhere with the kids. Seriously. Try not to be too jealous of my glamorous life. It’ll be hard, but try. And really, I guess my toenails just sorta wear themselves down inside my shoes. Kinda like how a dog’s nails file themselves down against the pavement when they go for walks, I guess. Again, I can feel your deep longing to trade lives with me through the computer. Try to control your envy.
A mani/pedi takes your feet and hands outta commission. It’s awkward to make your way to the pantry waddling on your heels with toe separators in. It’s dangerous to dig through bags and bins, and disastrous to fiddle with wrappers with wet nails. Make sure to do all the things leading up to the actual, snack-blocking paint job, too. Trim, file, and buff the nails, scrape all the nastiness out from under them, and push back and condition the cuticles. Keep those hands busy!
d) Whiten your teeth
This is even more effective than a mani/pedi for keeping you from snacking. You simply can’t snack when you’ve got a whitening tray or sheet on your teeth. Perfect.
- Read a book
I find when I’m scrolling my phone I tend to happen upon photos of delicious food, whether on Pinterest, Instagram, or even Google and its borderline creepy knowledge and “random” suggestions of what I might like. If I’m in a snacky, yet not legitimately hungry mood, this is no good.
Grab a book – not a cookbook – and get lost in its pages. Stimulate your mind, learn something new, or focus on the whimsy and thrill of an adventurous storyline. Distance yourself from the temptation of the kitchen, and curl up with your book in a super-cozy chair or in bed surrounded by soft pillows and warm blankets so you’re so comfortable you won’t want to get up and raid the pantry. Besides, it’s difficult to hold a book and turn pages with orange Cheetos fingers. It’s best to leave the snacks out of it.
Keep yourself moving and distracted with clearing clutter, taking out the trash, dusting, sweeping and mopping, scrubbing the toilets, etc. Not only will you increase your NEAT and burn a few extra calories, but you won’t be eating any extra calories. I don’t know about you, but I am never holding a toilet brush or broom in one hand and food in the other.
Related: 9 Sneaky Ways to Increase Your NEAT
I’ve never heard of sleep-eating. Maybe it exists, but if it does let’s just agree it’s rare and unlikely that you suffer from this condition. Sleep is awesome. It’s amazing. And you need it to function at peak levels when it comes to training and being active during the day. Not to mention, when you’re tired it’s easier to adopt an IDGAF attitude, and your willpower and ability to make healthy food choices tends to go down the pooper. You need energy to want to exercise and to eat to support your goals. You need to sleep to have energy.
- Have a zero-calorie beverage
Brew yourself a hot tea or black coffee. Don’t like it black? Use some no-calorie sweeteners like Skinny Mixes syrups or Splenda. Diet pop (I say “pop,” you “soda” saying heathens) is a good option, too, despite all the hubbub in the media about cancer and chemicals, blah blah blah. Moderation in all things, people. Crystal light or similar liquid water enhancers are tasty, too. You’ll be hydrating – yes, tea, coffee, and even pop are primarily water, so don’t get your panties in a twist – at the same time you’ll be keeping your mouth and taste buds busy between meals and snacks.
Seriously. You’re not eating during your workout, unless it’s over an hour long and/or you are required to have a snack for blood sugar purposes. Some individuals even find their appetite suppressed after a workout. Maybe you’re one of those individuals! Even if you’re not, at the very least you’ve successfully killed another 20-45 mindless-snacking free minutes to get you to your next, healthy, planned snack or even bedtime. Added bonus: you will probably have to shower afterward. Refer back to distraction #1.
Related: My Kelsey Wells’ PWR Program 6 Month Progress and Review
- Have sex
I mean, why the hell not? And don’t give me this “but I’m single and alone” BS, because despite popular opinion, another person is not required. Just FYI. Either way, I don’t think I’ve ever been chowing down on Doritos while doing the deed, so…win-win! You could sandwich this one between a shower/pampering session (#1) and going to sleep (#4) and really get your [no] money’s worth of snack distractions.
I’d like to take a moment to reiterate that these tactics are to keep yourself from snacking unnecessarily, not when you are actually hungry. Having said that, hunger is not an emergency. I hate to break it to you, but you will not starve to death if you have to wait 20 minutes until lunch or dinner. Sometimes I do feel kinda hungry, but I know my next meal or snack is right around the corner and I’m not gonna wither away to nothing if I don’t eat before I get there. When you have fitness and weight loss goals, sometimes you have to deal with feeling hungry.
The key is to make sure you’re eating enough on a regular basis to where you don’t get hangry, famished, and starving. A little twinge of hunger now and then is normal. Feeling like you’re gonna pass out or die from hunger is not.
Check out some free, online calculators like this one or this one and figure out what your gentle calorie deficit or maintenance numbers are so you can go into this sensibly. Please don’t assume you gotta eat 1200 calories or less per day because of diet culture. I guarantee you that’s wayyyyy too low! I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that you will not have to cut back to 1200 calories in order to lose weight. That’s just ridiculous. Also, I’m a stay-at-home mom of 2 littles and get paid nothing but endless messes and tantrums, so that bet was just for dramatic effect.
What is something you find yourself doing to keep yourself outta the kitchen? Let me know in the comments, and hit me up on Instagram, where I share my daily food diary as well as the ups and downs of my personal fitness journey.
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