How to control mindless snacking

halt

 

Do you eat when you're not really hungry?  I know I do!  We all have those moments when we eat something just because it's there, or it just feels good.

My weakness is at a potluck.  So many people bring so much homemade goodness.  It is hard for me to not try everything, and everything is too much for just one me!

Today, I am here to give you a tool to take a step back before you eat.  It will help you make a mindful decision about what you put in your body.

HALT

Halt is the cue word for the four things you need to ask yourself before you proceed to eat.  I am not advocating skipping meals mind you.  That is another way to set yourself up for disappointment.  Use this between meals, and before second helpings.

HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Hungry

Are you really feeling hungry?  If so, by all means, eat!  A great idea is to rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10.  1 is full, and 10 is starving, 5 is neither hungry or full.  It is better to eat when you are at a 6 or 7. 

You really don’t want to wait until you are too hungry, or you may eat too much, too fast, or too high calorie foods.  You should stop eating at about a 3 or 4.  That is a feeling of being satisfied.  Make sense?

Angry

Some people eat for emotional reasons.  Food is a coping mechanism for many of us.  Eating has real psychological soothing effects.  For the short time while you eat, you do feel better.  

But, you are let down immediately after, compounded by remorse.  

If you realize your mood is what has driven you to the kitchen, try a walk around the block instead.  It’ll give you a chance to clear your head, sort out your feelings, and get you away from food until the craving passes.

Other ways of dealing with anger:  listening to music, journaling, sing at the top of your lungs (better than yelling), or intense exercise.  Cleaning is a popular method of dealing with anger in my house.  Hey, win-win!

Lonely

Very similar to the above.  Sometimes we eat because it offers comfort when we feel lonely.  The food will not fill that void, and will only create feelings of guilt soon after eating. 

A better choice would be to call someone, or listen to the radio.  I love to listen to podcasts.  I learn so much when I am getting dressed in the morning, or driving in the car, because I listen to informative podcasts.  There are podcasts on every topic, and some are just intended to entertain.  That might be a great choice for a lonely mood.

Another thought is to get out of the house.  Run some errands, take a walk in a local park, or go to the library.  Just being in the company of others can lift that feeling of loneliness.

Tired

Are you tired, or maybe even bored.  Either way, this is when we turn to the pantry to wake us up or give us something to do.  Actually, eating is going to have the opposite effect on your lethargy.  You can become more lethargic by eating common snack foods. 

Even if you have a nice sugar high, you will soon be crashing down.  Again, a better choice is to get moving.  Take a walk, dance to some upbeat music, or do some jumping jacks.  That will get your endorphins going, and you’ll feel energized.  Makes more sense, right?

Try it!

If you write HALT on some sticky notes, and post them in strategic places, you may catch yourself before you eat for the wrong reason.  It will become a habit after reading those notes a few times.

Remember:  pause and ask yourself, "am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired?"  Proceed accordingly.

Plan ahead.  Did you relate to any of these triggers?  Think about times when you may have eaten when you were really just lonely.  What could you have done differently?  Plan strategies now to handle those times when they occur.

The suggestions I gave were what works for me.  But, everyone is different.  What about you?  Comment below with ways you have curbed your snacking impulse.  It could very well help someone else!