Snacking in the UK is big business. Brits spend a whopping £2.8 billion a year on snacking!
And it’s growing, 70% of millennials surveyed in 2021 said they prefer snacks to meals.
And it’s no surprise, the majority of snacks are high salt, sugar and fat – they taste damn good!
They are now our ‘go to’ as a mood boost, treat, reward, a ‘pick me up’ – there are so many reasons why we snack, but hunger is rarely one of them.
These highly marketed, relatively inexpensive goodies are readily available at every turn. Petrol stations are the worst. As we approach the till we’re cocooned in confectionery, almost compelled to buy!
And so many of the snacks available to buy now claim to be healthy!
One third of snack bars launched in 2020 claimed to be ‘high protein’.
With Carbohydrates and Fats now ridiculed over the last few decades, Protein is the last man standing, the hero of the hour. It seems to be believed that if it’s got protein in it, then it must be ok!
But any excess calories, wherever they come from, will be stored as FAT.
When I started out as a Weight Loss and Nutrition consultant, I’d spend a lot of time trying to find ‘healthy’, low calorie snacks for clients. Over the years, I’ve done a complete U-turn.
I now spend that time finding out WHY my client’s snack.
I look at what they reach for, at what time of day and what mood they’re in when they snack.
It won’t surprise you to hear that it is rarely hunger that has them turning to snacks but if this is genuinely you, you’re in luck. Snacking due to hunger is the easiest nut to crack (no pun intended).
By eating the right amount, of satiating foods, at the right time of day, you can pretty much eradicate snacking due to hunger.
Tackling the ‘WHY’ behind snacking is an important aspect of weight loss
I recently held a poll on LinkedIn asking for reasons why people snack and the results backed up my findings with my clients.
56% cited boredom as the biggest driver to snack.
And evenings seem to be the biggest trigger – when we’re sitting in front of the TV, watching programmes about food, clever adverts in-between, enticing us to think ‘I fancy a little something…….’
But here’s the math…
In order to lose one pound of fat a week we need to cut 3,500 calories from our diet: that’s 500 calories a day.
- The ‘average’ 25g packet of crisps =124 calories. Not all crisps are ‘average’ a ‘Sharing bag’, 150g = 708 calories! NB Men are far more likely to eat a sharing bag of crisps to themselves than women.
- The average chocolate bar = 120 – 150 calories.
- A couple of biscuits = 80 – 120 calories
- Cappuccino = 122 calories
- Toast + butter = 190 calories
- A bottle of beer (330ml) = 130 calories
Then throw in the odd ‘healthy’ protein bar (200 calories+) …is it any wonder the nation’s weight is creeping up?!
If your snacking habits are hindering your weight loss and you want this to change, here are two powerful questions to ask yourself…
- Is there a pattern to your snacking? Is it the same time each day? Are weekdays different to the weekend?
- Are you actually hungry when you reach for the snacks?
If you are hungry – why? Did you eat enough of the right food at your previous meal? Did you eat your previous meal too early?
If you’re not hungry – what is it you’re really looking for? I’m afraid food won’t be the answer…
If you’ve developed a habit of eating snacks in-between meals – breaking these habits will definitely help you drop the pounds.
But I do understand that can be easier said than done…!
Here’s a few suggestions that might help you break the habit.
- Can you distract yourself? It takes just 30 seconds to engage your conscious brain and take your mind off that chocolate/crisps/toast etc.
- Think about WHY you want to lose weight – the stronger your WHY, the easier it will be to walk away from that crisp cupboard!
- Move the snacks to a new cupboard, one you rarely use. Put them in a non-see through tin. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Even better – don’t buy the snacks in the first place! Take the temptation away. And if they’re ‘for the kids’ – stop eating your children’s food! 😉 (And why are you buying so many snacks anyway – do you really want to pass on these unhealthy habits?)
- Have a herbal tea – no food goes with herbal tea!
- Chew gum – you can’t put anything else in your mouth if you’re chewing gum!
And if it’s a particular time of the day…
Mid-Morning snacking –
- Are you eating breakfast when you’re hungry? We are conditioned to eat breakfast first thing; we should eat when we’re hungry. Start the day with a glass of water or herbal tea and listen to your body, when do you first feel hungry? Eating breakfast a little later should help you cut out a morning snack.
- Eat something that your body will digest slowly – oats, natural yogurt, eggs.
To help prevent mid-afternoon snacking –
- Eat a nutritious lunch, eat enough to satisfy you – plenty of protein and fibre (vegetables)
- Stay hydrated. Drink a pint of water
- Get some fresh air – go for a short brisk walk (just 10/20 minutes)
- If dinner is a long way off, have some fruit or something protein based (an egg!) to tied you over.
Avoid the late-night munchies –
- Don’t have any snacks in!
- Avoid alcohol – our defences weaken!
- Just go to bed! Read.
Late night snacking is possibly the most dangerous time of the day to eat. We need at least 12 hours of rest from digesting food overnight (i.e. no calories in – that includes alcohol).
During the evening the body is winding down, getting ready for sleep. It’s important that the digestive system rests. There are a whole heap of vital processes our body goes through whilst the digestive system is at rest (called autophagy). To carry on eating into the night is damaging, not only to our weight, but to our health too.
Research is showing that not getting a break from digestion is increasing our risk of illnesses such as Parkinson’s, dementia and various cancers.
If you reduce your snacking, you will lose weight!
I’ll leave you with one final thought – If you cut just 200 calories a day…so that could be
A packet of crisps and a biscuit,
A cappuccino and a muesli bar,
A chunk of cheese and some ritz biscuits…
or 2 bottles of beer
…that would equate to you losing 1.5stone/9.5kg of fat in a year.
How would you feel if you were 1.5 stone lighter this time next year….?
For anyone who’d like some help with weight loss – I’m here!
Let’s have a chat – book here for a virtual cuppa. I’ll put the kettle on!