I admit it: I’m a snacker. I always have been. Regardless of how much exercise I’m doing or what my weight is, I feel better when I’m eating every few hours. I’ve tried to stop it in the past, but it seems there is not enough protein and healthy fat in the world for me to make it more than 4 hours without eating. Longer than that and I become crabby and unreasonable. (There are lots of stories amongst our friends about times I’ve lost my sh%^ because I was hungry. 10+ years later I still get teased about a night in college where I nearly came to blows with a friend over where we were going to dinner.)
So, I’m not trying to get rid of small, frequent meals. What I’m talking about here is the constant *need* to eat that I get in the evenings. I know it’s not a real need, but it certainly feels like it at the time. Even as I’m telling myself that I don’t need something, I’m reaching for another cookie or handful of nuts or plantain chips… Yeah, I’m an equal opportunity snacker – sugar, salt, fat… all of it sounds good to me. While the scale and my clothes are all saying it’s ok (so far), I need to get it under control before it becomes such a habit that I keep doing it even when my mileage goes back to 20-30 miles a week.
1. Eat breakfast – I always eat breakfast, but often it’s not very substantial. I’ll grab a couple of bits of Jones’ sausage and the crusts from S’ PB&J. Maybe I’ll make myself half a sandwich. I’m setting myself up for hungries later in the day. My plan is to eat a full sized PB&J on longer run days (still the fuel that works best for me) and then hit up a slice of quiche and some fruit on lower/no mileage days. (Quiche recipe here)
2. Prep some extra protein and vegetables – If I have something easy to grab in the fridge, I grab it. I’ll eat nearly any vegetable and I love beans. I’ve found that if I have cooked and ready to go, I’ll throw them together with a little cheese and salsa whenever I realize I’m hungry. The combination of protein and fat really make a difference in how long I can go between mini meals.
3. Plan lunch – I know life has been crazy lately with kids being out for snow/cold/ice plus trying to cram in work and increased mileage, but lately I haven’t eaten lunch until close to 3. Frequently, I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast and I’ve run 6 or more miles in that time. Talk about setting yourself up to start shoveling food in your mouth!
4. Drink more water – I’m awful. I have a Sodastream. I buy nuun practically by the case. Yet, most days I don’t touch water until during/after my run.
5. Eat more healthy fats – I love carbs. LOVE them. But I need to add more healthy fats to my diet. When I was nursing Shoo, I couldn’t eat enough to keep the weight on and used to eat an avocado a day. I don’t need to do that, but I think with all of the running I’m doing, I need to add part of an avocado or some nut butter to my mid-day snack.
6. Get away from the kitchen – I work in our dining room, which means I’m steps away from the kitchen. It’s way too easy to walk in and grab a handful of something. I’ve found that if I take my water bottle and computer and move to the living room, I’m much less likely to make the trip back for snacks.
7. Brush my teeth – I used to brush my teeth when I’d get Shoo ready for bed. Actually, I still do, but he goes to bed much later than he used to. I need to start heading upstairs after my evening snack and brush my teeeth. 99% of the time, I don’t snack once I’ve brushed my teeth.
8. Plan my snacks – I’m not going to give up my evening snack all together. We eat dinner at about 5:30. If I don’t eat again before bed, I wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling. I don’t mind waking up in the morning hungry, but losing sleep because I’m hungry is not going to cut it. On the nights when I let myself have a planned snack of oatmeal or something protein, I feel my best. I love the Simply Snackin meats and they really work for me. I hate how expensive they are, but really if I only eat that instead of a ton of other stuff, I’ll save money in the end.
9. Cut back on sugar – Sugar is a huge trigger for me. I weaned myself off of sugar in my coffee ages ago because it started me off on a day of wanting sugar. If I’m going to have it, it needs to be late in the day (right before I brush my teeth) and preferably something like a piece of fruit.
10. Just say no – Sometimes nothing else is going to work. If I can run half marathons even when my body says it wants to stop, there is no reason I can’t find that mental strength to just step away from the snacks. That strength is there. I just need to harness it.
Do you have a trigger time of day when you tend to snack? How do you stop yourself? What’s your favorite small meal/snack to eat between real meals?